Touchstones are the parts of books, movies, poems, artwork or even songs that touch our heart in specific and meaningful ways. It’s usually the part that either takes your breath away or brings tears to your eyes. And it’s often the part you never forget!
Think of favorite movie quotes or favorite songs. What is it about them that grab your attention? It most likely resonates with something you’ve experienced or longed for in your own life.
Some of my touchstones are found in these movies: You’ve Got Mail and Family Man
You’ve Got Mail takes me back to life as a child. My dad owned his own store, a pharmacy not a bookstore. But there are many more parts of the movie that resonate with my own story.
Family Man will always make me cry.
We went on a date night to see this movie right when we were debating whether or not to move or add on to our home.
I have always loved this home, and Tom was ready for a change. We were struggling to agree on which was the best decision for our family. When this part of the movie played on the big screen, I lost it!
“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.”
Needless to say, we added on to our home. It’s been 29 years this Fall. We have welcomed our 9 grandkids here and have become gray and wrinkly too. It was prophetic in a sense.
Touchstones are like that. We never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
What are your spouse’s touchstones? Maybe it’s a car they had, or a special meal. It can be anything that triggers a special moment to them. I challenge you to give it some thought and plan to “wow” your spouse with a special memory. And if you think about it, share it with us in the comments. We all need to be touched in this touchless season of covid.
We all have one, but how we share it with others either builds up or tears down marriage. What is it?
We love to get to know new couples and hear of their journey from their beginning to the present. Sometimes it’s brief and predictable, but more times than not it’s long and complicated. It takes time to get to know someone on this level, but it’s worth it.
For those who know Jesus the story has even more depth. Full of lessons learned and character forged for one purpose, to become more like Christ for God‘s glory.
It is helpful to remember not only do we belong to each other, but we are His. our love is triple braided cord that isn’t easily broken, as Ecclesiastes 4:12 says.
But we can live our lives frayed if we don’t allow the hard times to mold and shape us.
We have had our share of hardship these past 2 years. Many of which you all have heard of and prayed about with us. Thank you doesn’t begin to express our gratitude.
This is our story and it is still being written one painful stroke at a time. We don’t know where it will all go, but we do know the ending. This is what gives us hope.
What part of your story is being written today? Is it a good part where you can’t wait to see what happens next? Or is it so painful you’d rather not read the next line?
Know that in either scenario you are being guided by a loving Heavenly Father, the Author and Perfecter of your faith. When He is finished we will gasp at the amazing story He has completed. And as we share it with others we are amazed at how He brought us through.
Likewise, when couples openly share with us the details of their story—the good and the bad—we learn from what they’ve experienced and our friendship deepens.
Who are you currently getting to know on this level? We encourage you to seek couples—those older than you and younger, as well as those in your current season. We can learn so much by reading the stories of others. This is where lasting friendships are forged and marriages are built to endure no matter the circumstances.
My Father-in-law is living with us and I recently asked if he liked eggs. He told a story of how he used to make fried eggs for his wife who passed away last year. It brought a smile to his face just recounting how he used to take care of her. Even though her last few years were difficult physically, he loved her. He expressed his love in unselfish acts of service that brought joy not only to her, but to him as well.
What things are you doing today that you’ll remember fondly in the years to come?
We just arrived at our cabin a few days ago. This is the first time we’ve been back since last August. Many of you may have seen my Instagram post about the surprise Tom had for me. He hired our lawn company a couple of months ago to start planting flowers and evergreens everywhere! He surprised me so much so that all I could do was cry at the sight of it. I cried more because of the thoughtful planning Tom did to pull this off. He loves me and these flowers will always stand as a testimony of his commitment to us.
I recently read about flowers in that they are beautiful, but temporary. Even the Bible says they are here one day and gone the next. But its important to know that their purpose outlives them; when they are in full bloom they provide nectar and pollen to help other plants become fruitful and multiply.
“The true ideal flower is the one that uses its gifts as a means to an end; the brightness and sweetness are not for its own glory; they are but to attract the bees and butterflies that will fertilize and make it fruitful. All may go when the work is done—‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” –
Miriam Huffman Rockness, Images of Faith pg 140
Flowers give beauty and benefit putting forth their best self for the good of others. I was happy to see bumble bees and hummingbirds already receiving good from my newly planted flower garden.
We would do well in our marriages to learn from the flowers of the field.
In what ways do you put forth your best self in order to bless your spouse? In what way has your spouse done this for you? Spend some time recounting the good together. Why not plan a surprise for your spouse that will bless them at the thought of what you did. These are the things we’ll remember fondly in the years to come. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate either; it can be as simple as a healthy breakfast. How do you like your eggs?
I’ve been thinking about the importance of curiosity in marriage. Curiosity is what keeps us inquiring about something. When we’re curious we want to know more and don’t assume we’ve discovered all there is to know. Curiosity kills such assumptions.
In marriage curiosity has a huge impact on the continued growth of a relationship.
I’m curious to know why my husband does what he does in the way he does it. Many times I discover he has a very good reason for the systems he has in place. Sometimes he hasn’t given it much thought. But being curious reveals things I don’t know about him.
A child is naturally curious. It teaches them how to talk, walk and explore the world around them. It is a healthy aspect of childhood. A child who is prevented from following their curiosities will be stunted in their growth and knowledge, and feel unloved.
To be curious means to have an active desire to learn or know.
Did you catch that? An ACTIVE desire to learn more about our spouse. Most couples begin with lots of curiosity. We can’t get enough of each other and when we are together we talk incessantly. Once married and the burden of careers and parenting take over, we forget to make this a priority. We no longer seek to know more. Life is too busy to be curious.
How do we maintain this curiosity in marriage? I believe it begins with listening well to our spouse. Most times it’s a spontaneous conversation about something they did, read or heard. You may or may not be ready for this conversation, but there it is. You have a choice to make–put the phone or whatever you’re doing aside and listen.
Find out what has excited your spouse enough to tell you what they’re thinking.
Ask more questions.
Realize that your questions may help them understand themselves more too
Don’t assume they’re telling you the whole story at first.
See this experience as a curiosity worth the detour, rather than an interruption from your own schedule
Doing this will benefit your marriage in ways that may surprise you.
Our spouse should be our highest priority, even over the kids. One day our children will grow up and move away to live their own lives. You don’t want to realize how much your spouse has changed because you failed to be curious about the changes as they were happening. We all change through the years. What we once loved may no longer be our favorite.
A friend recently shared that when they were first married she loved yellow tulips. But she didn’t like how quickly they faded. She no longer enjoyed them because their beauty didn’t last long enough to make it worth the money. She never thought of telling her husband this fact. So he continued to buy her yellow tulips for her in a way to bless her, but it was no longer a blessing. Her preference had changed as we all do over time.
Do you know how your spouse is changing? Being curious will help you stay current with all of the changes.
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
– Walt Disney
Look back on your marriage 5, 10 or 15 years ago. What were you like then? How much have you grown and changed? Imagine the next 10 years. Where do you want your marriage to be? Let curiosity be the fuel that gets you there.
(Resource for this post used from an article on Huffington Post by Dr. Harville Hendrix & Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt)
Date nights can be a source of great frustration. So much so that you’d rather avoid them altogether. I get it! For some, date nights are a regular trigger for disagreement and misunderstanding. Why is that?
Why is it that dates are anticipated and valued before marriage, and often become this tense issue years into marriage?
After decades of practicing regular date nights and hearing from many couples why they would rather avoid them, we want to address the reasons that may be the cause.
Here are 4 tips to consider:
Tip One – If your budget is tight, the last thing you in which you can indulge is unnecessary expenses like eating out. But dates are even more needed when money is tight. This is why we have spent years developing our list of date ideas that don’t require a babysitter. We call them “D.R.A.B.” for short. But they are anything BUT drab. Of course, some of these ideas may or may not be for you. The fun part is thinking outside of the box of a traditional date and have fun. Even if your idea flops these dates can often be the ones that make you laugh the most.
Tip Two – Plan ahead. Nothing sparks an argument like getting in the car and asking this question, “So where do you want to go?” Honestly, I love it when Tom plans our entire date and I don’t have to think about a thing. When you still have young children at home it’s even better if the husband arranges the babysitter. Of course, there are times when the husband needs this added measure of planning ahead as well. It’s all about what is currently needed to offer help and encouragement to each other.
Tip Three – One spouse thinks dates are unnecessary, while one wants the special time together. This is more common than I realized. Some people get hung up on the term “Date” thinking its hokey. I am very creative when it come to date ideas, and I admit some of them can be hokey. But Tom has always been a good sport and willing to try my ideas just because he likes to cater to my whims. I know some husbands and/or wives can dig their heels in and refuse to play along. This is when you must study your spouse more to know how to enjoy time together on their terms. If the phrase “date night” is a turn-off for your spouse, call it something else. The point is to make time to make time together as a couple. This is the friendship side of your relationship that holds all the other sides together. Do something you both enjoy on a regular basis and watch how it supports you both when things are hard.
Tip Four – Neither of you like to go out, but both of you would rather do your own thing. Of course we all need our alone time, or time together with a friend. But if this supersedes your relationship and time cultivating your marriage, you have more trouble than planning a perfect date night. It’s time to ask hard questions and the sooner the better. We call this a drifting marriage, and drifting is going no where fast. One day you’ll be so far apart in your relationship that you may even opt to call it quits. Please don’t let this happen. Your differences are meant to help each other become better than you would be on your own. For example, Tom is a scheduler and I’m more spontaneous. This has caused many a struggle in our marriage. As we have come to know each other more, Tom has become much more spontaneous and I have learned to plan things quite well. We are a better “we” than “me”.
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all perfect date. It’s about finding what builds the friendship side of your marriage and doing those things on a regular basis. This is purposeful, prevents drift and most of all makes memories that last a lifetime.
We just had our irrigation system’s annual inspection. Not all areas were working well; some sprinkler heads were broken; some were spraying in the wrong direction and some didn’t have enough water pressure because of leaking pipes. Our friend, who owns an irrigation business went to work and repaired all that was required. Now our lawn is ready to take on the heat of Summer and our garden seems to be smiling.
Having a well-watered lawn in Florida is required in order for the grass to grow. Those who don’t have a built in system, must work hard to move sprinklers and hoses around to make sure every inch of the lawn is covered. It is an exhausting process that usually doesn’t produce the results desired. While it can be an expensive process to install a good irrigation system, the results are a compelling reason to make the investment.
Irrigation is not a new thing. In fact the Egyptians mastered this technique using the River Nile to water their fields. They learned how to manage the annual flooding of the river to their advantage, and the results provided food for the entire region. It didn’t always work as planned, but for the most part it was successful.
You may be wondering what this has to do with marriage.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV
While this verse isn’t talking about irrigation, there is a similar principal here. Christ loved us so much that He was willing to pour His life out as a ransom for us, His Bride. Husbands are likewise called to emulate Christ by loving their wives in the same way. Like the water that is poured out on a parched field providing refreshing water, so too should a husband love his wife in such a way that he refreshes and strengthens her.
This is also sound advice for how a wife should treat her husband. Our words are like water–they can either scorch or refresh our spouse. We would do well to consider this fact.
A well-irrigated lawn is a beautiful metaphor for a healthy marriage. When done right everyone notices.
An irritator is one who won’t stop doing something that is annoying to others. Think siblings who like to tease to the point of angry outbursts. It is not a fun way for anyone to live, except maybe the irritator who finds enjoyment in making their siblings cry.
“A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;”
Proverbs 27:15 NIV
Ouch! That is quite an irritation, isn’t it? I know King Solomon is saying this about a quarrelsome wife, but in reality both husbands and wives are capable of being an irritator. It can be intentional or not. It may be a bad habit honed over years or it could be the result of an unresolved conflict.
If you are the type to push confrontation aside because you don’t like how it makes you feel, you may be a strong candidate as an irritator. Maybe your spouse asks you to do something, but because of your silent anger you procrastinate. This becomes an irritation to your spouse and they don’t even know why it’s happening. False assumptions can be made and the tensions mount from there. It’s better to deal head on with conflict when it happens. This is why the Bible says to not let the sun go down on your anger. If you do the conflict will only fester and infection is likely to follow.
How can we go from being an irritator to an irrigator? (The answer sounds simple, but I know from experience that it isn’t!) Keep the lines of communication open–this allows the conversation to flow. Will it be easy–no! Will it be worth it–yes!
Like our friend who repaired our irrigation system. He was willing to get on his hands and knees to dig up sprinkler heads covered with grass. He was hot and dirty when he finished, but the reward came knowing everything was as it should be.
It takes humility to go from being an irritator to an irrigator. One must be willing to bend the knee to do what’s needed to make things right. Once you can talk completely and openly, then hurts and offenses that have been buried can be found and repaired.
Conflicts will come. It is as predictable as the River Nile flooding. Making the most of the conflicts by learning and growing in understanding each other will be like a well-watered field, beneficial for all!
Ah! Kissing!! It is what makes a relationship special. When Tom kissed me for the first time I don’t remember much else but this one fact–he loved me! We reserve kisses for those whom we love the most, and this is how it should be. There are different types of kisses for different occasions.
Hollywood has made some memorable scenes involving the kiss.
Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in “It’s A Wonderful Life”
Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh in “Gone With The Wind”
Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in “From Here To Eternity”
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in “Casablanca”
Six of the best kinds of kisses to help your marriage grow in intimacy:
The Greeting Kiss – When your spouse walks in the door and you make it a priority to welcome them home with a kiss, you are saying volumes to them and to your children. This kiss means I am happiest when you are home with me.
The Apology Kiss – One of the hardest kisses to give when there is still conflict swirling in the air. But did you know that making a decision to apologize and kiss your spouse makes it difficult to stay angry. Kissing is a laying down of offenses and welcoming your spouse back into your good graces. This is humility on display and the good soil in which intimacy grows.
The Celebration Kiss – Think New Year’s Eve or Birthdays. Whenever something wonderful happens you want to grab your spouse and kiss them with all your might. And if for some reason they aren’t with you on those special occasions, the void is felt. A kiss represents your oneness. Most couples when witnessing a bride and groom seal their vows with a kiss, remember their first married kiss as well. They sit and little closer and snuggle at the memory.
The Sympathetic Kiss – When life hits you hard, sometimes there are no words to express your feelings. A kiss with tears speaks volumes of how much you care. This type of kiss is a gift to the one hurting and makes your spouse feel supported and understood.
The Lingering Kiss – I love to give Tom an unexpected, lingering kiss. The kind that that tells him I want him and still find him handsome and desirable. This works well on busy days when you both have a lot happening. Taking a minute to remind them through a kiss how much they mean to you, goes a long way in motivating the rest of the day.
The Goodnight Kiss – At day’s end, your spouse is the last one you see before falling asleep. Sealing the day with a kiss says I’m glad to be doing this life with you, for you make it worth the effort. A kiss before sleep also informs your dreams of who has your heart whether you’re awake or asleep.
How well do you and your spouse kiss? Take the kissing challenge during the next week and pay attention to how well you kiss. Better yet, don’t tell your spouse. Just let them be the recipient of your affection and watch the effect it has on them.
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine;”
We are talking about painting the inside of our home. It has been years since we last did it–11 to be exact–and it is time. But considering the colors we want, it will most likely lead to changing furniture, wall decor, rugs, carpet and a slew of other things I’m probably not thinking of yet. It makes me want to say, “Eh, never mind.” Why is that? I know I will love the results, but is it worth all the work needed to do it right? Like most things the answer is YES.
Our home is comfortable. It fits us. But change is good in that helps us reevaluate systems that worked when our kids lived here, but don’t work as well now. Taking a fresh look at our space gives us a new perspective on how we live. It may feel strange at first but it will become our new normal.
We are in a new community group reading through Gary Thomas’ book, Cherish. This is at least the 10th time we’ve done this, and each time we are inspired ourselves and also by the couples who get it! However, there are usually those who have struggled in their marriage for years–maybe 11 or more–and the question they ask is, “Is it worth it? Or will I be disappointed once again?” I get it. When years of bad habits have developed it can actually become comfortable in an odd sort of way; like our old lumpy sofa. It fits us even though others who come and sit don’t have the same impression–literally.
A husband who has never offered to be involved in the relationship suddenly starts asking questions, make suggestions and want to change. The wife can take offense that he has come out of his corner and actually has opinions about things. She has said for years that she wants him to do this but once he actually does? It messes with her comfort zone.
A wife who has been indifferent and disconnected to her husband on all levels suddenly realizes her err and repents. Now she wants to be with her man, yet he pulls away because she’s too close. He has become comfortable with the wrongs suffered over the years. He is used to the distance.
These are both very common scenarios. It requires a fresh look at where you started to accurately assess your commitment to each other and to God.
In redoing our home, we take it down to the bare bones. This helps us see the possibilities and build fresh on the foundation that was laid at the beginning.
Our vows are like the bones of a home; they are what hold the marriage together when we don’t feel like it. And we should take them seriously. We said them before family and friends, but most of all God. He sealed our love and He alone can heal our hurts and failures. But we must be willing to do the work. He may lead us to the changes needed and provide help from those who can encourage us, but the day to day choices to lean in and fight for our marriage, rather than pull away and flee are ours alone.
Sadly many couples sell out and move on rather than rolling up their sleeves and doing the all that is necessary to restore what the enemy has tried to steal, kill and destroy. Being comfortable isn’t always good.
Chip and Joanna Gaines have built an entire empire around fixing up old homes and restoring them to new life. Is your marriage a fixer upper? If it is, Demo Day can be one of the most exciting days because it removes what no longer works and replaces it with what does. We can think of it as hard work, or jump in and make it fun as Chip does so well. The choice is yours.
Imagine my disappointment when we arrived at Zion National Park to cold, foggy weather. Based on my last post I was hoping the views would be not only visible but breathtaking too.
I had no idea of what was coming!
The fog ended up being exactly what was needed to provide the right lighting to see the depth and breadth of the enormous mountain cliffs. We watched the shifting clouds with the ever-present, yet not always seen, sun peeking through pointing out vistas we might have missed.
This fog was a highlight of our day. As we climbed higher the fog turned to snow. It painted a Winter Wonderland that was gorgeous.
When I apply this to my longing for the fog to lift in my life, I see that there are things—important things—beautiful things—God wants me to see in this season. The fog is a way for me to slow down and notice what’s in front of me.
Even though the air is thinner at such a high altitude, I’m learning to breathe slowly and purposefully. I never know when the next view will take my breath away. I want to be ready.
As I was finishing this post, I wanted a verse to express how I feel. The following is the one God led me to…it made me cry tears of joy. Oh how He loves us!
“…to comfort all who mourn, to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3 ESV
Fog happens when the temperature changes drastically, usually during the changing of seasons. It can descend quickly and leave just as fast, or it can linger for days, even weeks. When it’s the latter it can bring with it a change in mood as well.
We have been living in foggy conditions for nearly two years. It came suddenly with no warning signs. Just damp, cold fog blocking our view and stopping us in our tracks.
We celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary in 2019, but it wasn’t how we had planned. We were in the throes of caring for our very sick granddaughter; one of the most difficult experiences of our lives. Our special trip to Montana was canceled, which was not rescheduled because COVID-19 hit in 2020.
The fog continued.
In 2021 we are once again in the throes of caring for a needy grandchild–this time our youngest who was born a micro-preemie at 24 weeks and 5 days. Many of you have followed Elias’ story and have encouraged us with your prayers and support. Thank you doesn’t seem adequate. You have been like a lighthouse in the fog reminding us that there are those willing to help guide us and encourage us, even though we couldn’t see clearly ourselves.
We have a two week vacation planned to Salt Lake City, but if I’m honest I am struggling. It isn’t easy pulling away with our daughter still facing everyday challenges in caring for her baby boy. Yet we have seen God’s faithfulness to her and her husband time and time again. We know that He is their strength, not us, and our strength is waning. We need time together to reconnect and refresh ourselves, so we have something still to give.
I was feeling guilty about leaving.
Tom kept reminding me that we need this time to focus on us. I knew he was right, but it hasn’t helped me with the mom-guilt thing. So I asked God to help me know that it would be okay for us to leave.
Within minutes a friend called to see how I was doing.
She had been praying for us and believed the Lord wanted her to tell me that we needed oxygen. I hesitantly asked her if this was because of what was coming? Or what we were already facing? I prayed it was the latter!
She went on to explain that when flying and there is turbulence, the flight crew always instructs that if the oxygen masks drop down to be sure and put yours on first before helping any little ones with theirs. She believed we needed to breathe before we could help anymore. And she had no idea of my prayer only minutes before she called.
The fog lifted. I had the answer I needed to push through the fog and breathewithout guilt.
In what ways have your current circumstances been like a fog blocking your view? The worst thing we can do when facing such times is nothing. We must breathe and keep taking the next step. We must trust that God is always a step ahead of us making sure we don’t slip. He is the author of the changing seasons in our family and in our marriage no matter how thick the fog may seem. It will lift and before we know it, Summer will be here.
It is Spring in FL and everything in our garden needs pruning, weeding, mulching, fertilizing and/or repotting. It can be overwhelming when looked at as a whole. But Tom and I have found that focusing on one thing and completing it well gives us motivation to do the next thing and so on. All this work makes us tired, but the joy that comes from the final result is worth it.
Marriages face seasons as well.
When Spring arrives it follows the dormant season of winter. We have all been in a worldwide dormant season brought on by the cold winter drought of–COVID-19. Unlike the rhythm of the yearly seasons, this one took us all by surprise and made us take cover in our home together. Many were not prepared to be isolated for so long.
Some couples made the most of it and discovered they are still not only best friends, but madly in love. Some found areas in need of attention in their relationship leaving them discouraged. Still others found the marriage too broken to repair and are calling it quits. This group is the one that causes us the most sadness.
But today we want to focus on those who realize how much work needs to be done.
It is common for couples to avoid difficulty. We think we can get to it “another time”, but the right time never seems to come. What starts out as days becomes months, even years. Until neither of you know what the real issues are which caused the trouble in the first place.
Our advice to ourselves and to you who may find yourself in this place is to begin doing the hard work of pruning back the overgrowth of self-indulgence. Not doing what you want to do for the purpose of doing what you need to do.
Pruning – We have a gorgeous bougainvillea in our backyard that has overtaken its space. We gave it a hard pruning about two months ago and the plant actually looked relieved of the weight. When we returned from our daughter’s home after 6.5 weeks, we found branches growing where we had had removed them. Some may conclude this is a sign of health. We knew that it was a sign more pruning was needed.
We have also been pruning things in our marriage. Communication that has been allowed to flow freely without restraint adds a heaviness to our conversations. So we are working together talking about hard things, repenting and asking each other for forgiveness. Words spoken cannot be taken back, but they can be removed from future conversations. That’s an important part of repentance–if it’s genuine, change follows. However, it won’t fix it permanently; like our bougainvillea we have to keep an eye out for unwanted growth in this area.
Weeding – Many weeds are beautiful. We recently took a walk with our son’s children around their neighbor hood. Our youngest granddaughter was in awe of the clover and dandelions. She even exclaimed, “When I grow up and have a yard, I want all dandelions. They are my favorite!”
Weeds rob the plant of nutrients it needs to grow. What things have you allowed in your life that hinder the health of your marriage? They can appear or even be good, like dandelions, but in the end if not controlled, they’ll take over and spoil your relationship. Possible weeds to consider: hobbies, time spent on screens of any kind, friends and extended family, or work projects.
Of course I’m not saying these are bad for your marriage. Only if they are given priority over time spent loving and cherishing your spouse.
Mulch is used in the garden to help control weeds. Think of this as quality time together. If Tom and I are connected on all levels—spiritually, emotionally and physically, it is much easier to make room for other hobbies and relationships. The marriage won’t be starving for attention, but can reach out to bless and enjoy others.
Fertilizer enriches the soil of the plant. In marriage this is simply investing in your relationship through learning, growing, talking and being willing to see and hear your spouse’s perspective. Finding and committing to a Bible-teaching church that supports healthy marriages and family, is the best investment you can make in your future. Fertilizer has a lasting effect in the days, months and years to come. So does our spiritual foundation. It matters for a lifetime.
The next time you’re pruning in your yard, consider the health of your marriage with every cut. Allow God to speak to you what’s needed in this season of life and talk to your spouse about what you hear.
There is a greater beauty to behold for those who are willing to get their hands dirty and do the work.Joy awaits you!
42 is a significant number in more ways than I realized. In fact, there is a website that shares a list of 42 ways the number 42 is significant. Ten of the ones that stood out to me are listed below.
1. It is the first number retired from a sports figure. It was Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
2. Although I don’t agree, it is said to be ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything in The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy, by Douglas Adam’s.
3. Wolves and most adult dogs have 42 teeth.
4. There are 42 dots on one pair of dice.
5. Alice In Wonderland contains exactly 42 illustrations and makes many references to this number throughout the book, by Lewis Caroll
6. The Gutenberg Bible has 42 lines on each page.
7. The three top selling albums of all time each have a running time of 42 minutes. Michael Jackson‘s Thriller. Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, and Back in Black by AC/DC.
8. 42nd Street holds some of the most iconic buildings in NYC: The Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal and Times Square to name a few.
9. Elvis Presley was 42 when he passed away.
10. There are 42 territories in the board game Risk. The map is set up as it was during Napoleon‘s time.
All these are quite impressive. But none mean more to us than this day 42 years ago.
On this date Tom and I said our vows before family and friends and most importantly before God. He has been the glue to hold us together when neither of us could see the way out of difficult seasons. He has been our constant and sure hope!
42 years and it seems as if we’ve just begun.
We often joke that we have each been married to five different people (all the same person). That’s because as time passes we have changed. As we do we have had to relearn how to love and support the person we’ve each become.
Sadly, many couples check out without discovering what life will look like married to this new person. I am grateful that from the beginning we both decided divorce would never be an option. Little did we know how this commitment would help us persevere through challenges where many couples would quit.
Has it been easy? No! Has it been worth it? A million times yes! No one shares history with me like Tom. No one knows me like Tom. And no one would ever love me as well as he has loved me. It is a miracle—taking two and making them one flesh. We agree with God in saying, “It is very good!”
42 years. This is absolutely my favorite year of marriage. Each year is a testimony of the faithfulness of God to help two imperfect people keep their vows to each other.
Don’t marvel at us; marvel at Him!
We were married on the 24th. Tom was 24 and together we’ve made it 42 years. We have three children, three amazing spouses to our children who have become like children to us. They have blessed us with nine incredible grandchildren. I think it’s time for us to celebrate!
I love you Mr. Walter. You have made life this side of heaven better than I could have ever imagined.Happy Anniversary to us.
We were young and had two, (soon-to-be) three small children. Our church was young as well. We had left a large mega church in order to plant, with our young couples’ pastor, a church to discover New Testament reality. We didn’t know what it would look like, but we were excited to find out.
The year was 1985.
Tom was asked to lead a small group from the start. On Sunday morning after the service, each small group leader would set up a table with sign-up information to join their group.
The first couple to approach us was what we thought, an “older” couple. Lester and Dolores lived in our area and wanted to come to our group. They were one of many, but soon we would discover they were one-of-a-kind.
Lester and Dolores had the gift of hospitality. The rest of our group consisted of young, eager parents wanting to serve the Lord. What we lacked in wisdom, we excelled in enthusiasm.
Our first group dinner was Chinese themed. Poor Lester and Dolores. When they saw that some couples idea of bringing a dish was a pint of stir-fried rice to feed 12, they realized they needed to step in.
Our next dinner was held at their home where they served us the entire meal. They made so much food we had leftovers, and not only that…Dolores decorated the tables to go with the theme of the night, e.g fish fry, Italian, potato, or Christmas. it was always amazing. I’ll have to post about those nights later. We felt welcomed, spoiled and satisfied. But what we didn’t realize was how they were redefining for us what hospitality looked like.
I share this story with you because this dear couple is finally reunited in Heaven.
Lester died 16 years ago after an unsuccessful surgery that took his life too soon. Dolores was never the same without him. They were in love and loved life together. She lived like an amputee after his death, for part of her heart had been cut away and she hurt, understandably so.
Years later she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and moved close to one of their four children in a memory care facility. We lost touch with her from that point on…that is until today. We heard that Dolores died early this morning the day after Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day. They knew how to bring out the best of any holiday, and this one was no exception.
Our group was invited to their home for a romantic dinner. Lester had given all the husbands a Valentine card unbeknownst to the wives. It was the same on the outside and blank on the inside. They were instructed to write their wife a love letter, omitting pet names or anything that would give away who had written it, but to make it romantic and sincere.
The guys had no idea what Lester had planned. The wives knew nothing of it. But after dinner we were about to find out. They gathered us together in their family room.
Lester read each Valentine love letter one at a time. The wives had to guess which one was written by their husband. It may sound easy, but it wasn’t.
One Valentine stood out to all of us. It was signed, “Honey, you’re all the woman I’ll ever need!” So romantic. Every wife wanted it to be from their husband, but there was only one wife to be so honored—Dolores.
Although they were the oldest couple in our small group, their love was fresh and worth emulating.
It was fitting that Dolores died the day following Valentine’s Day. It was time for them to be reunited with each other as they worship the truest love of their lives, Christ Jesus.
We are grateful for their example that has left an indelible mark on all that we do. It makes us wonder what example we’re setting for those watching us. Not to bring us glory, but to draw others to True Love, to the One who never fails to exhibit real and lasting love—for eternity!
Thank you Lester and Dolores. We will see you again. Until then, enjoy your long-awaited reunion.
As most of you know, Tom (Papa) and I (Nana) are in Arkansas helping our daughter and son-in-love with their first baby who was born at 24 weeks and 5 days in October. They came home after being 2 hours away in Tulsa, OK, for 115 days. It is a privilege to be able to help them.
Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. I haven’t been out of the house since Tuesday. And that was to take Elias to his doctor appointment. I told Tom not to buy me a card this year since I didn’t have a chance to buy him one.
Well, what I didn’t know is that Tom had already bought me a card. So what did he do? He went to the store and picked out a card he thought I’d pick for him. He nailed it! And not only that, but he signed it as I would have if I had bought it.
The best gift? He made me laugh loud and hard. It was such a thoughtful and well timed gift.
Sometimes circumstances don’t lend themselves to romance, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be thoughtful and kind to each other.
I am grateful for my husband. We have walked together through some difficult times these past few years, but two things are constant—his love for me and God’s faithfulness to us.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Make it memorable and creative. ❤️
It’s the time of year in Florida where we have to prune, trim and weed our yard. Spring comes before the calendar says it’s so, and Saturday was the right time for us to get to work. We enjoy yard work in the cool weather. And it always pays off come Summer.
The biggest task is hard pruning my rose garden.
They have thorns as long as finger nails and have to be cut back to a third of their size; It’s no easy task. However, the right tools makes it much easier.
My daughter bought me the most amazing rose garden gloves for my birthday last year that are made of thick leather and cover all the way to my elbows. This is the first year I didn’t get a single thorn prick or scratch. It is nothing short of amazing! I have rose thorns embedded in my fingers from years past, so this was a blessing I didn’t know I was missing.
This made me wonder what having the right tools for our marriage could mean.
Maybe less pain and more progress?
More willingness to do the work with faster results?
Cleaner cuts that promote new growth, instead of careless cuts that bring more problems?
This pandemic has brought isolation in ways many of us have never experienced.
It can cause already difficult areas in our marriage to become unbearable, like old overgrowth after a long, dormant winter. It screams for pruning. It’s noticeable and more difficult to ignore. But be careful; there are deep wounds the thorns of unresolved conflict can inflict on a weakened marriage.
“Wearing gloves” in marriage is likened to admitting you need help.
It takes humility to let your needs be known. God has ordained it this way. We aren’t meant to live in isolation. We need each other to help us learn and grow.
Marriages face many challenges. Some are unique to your relationship. Some are common to most. Take time and consider who are those in your life available to help you in your time of need? Who has a marriage you admire? What authors have written books that discuss the very challenges you face? What marriage blogs discuss practicals on how to prune in the right way leading to new growth? Or consider talking with your pastor or a marriage counselor if more one on one help is required.
Pruning and weeding is never easy. Once you start it always looks worse before it gets better. Lots of dirt and cuts, but if done right with the proper tools it won’t leave you or your spouse with unsightly scars. The best part? The hope for a healthier, stronger marriage as Summer approaches—a beauty to behold!
We are happy to offer suggestions on what resources could help you in your current struggles. Just ask, either in the comments or by emailing us.
We have a place here in Florida that has become one of our favorite places to go. Especially during the pandemic. It is a place that helps redirect our focus, and it has worked for us time and time again.
Lake Apopka is a working restoration project of one of the largest fresh water lakes in Florida. For decades Lake Apopka was bordered by muck farms that produced the best sweet corn ever tasted. However, the fertilizer used on these farms cause an overgrowth of algae in the lake and nearly killed it. What used to be a first-class bass fishing lake, has become the state’s most polluted lake.
Florida has made plans to restore this nearly 31,000 acre lake, but it will take years. One of the ways they are helping people become aware of their efforts is a free park with trails for biking, hiking and driving. The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive (LAWD as it is called) is filled with birds, reptiles, fish and fauna of all kinds. We love taking the 2 hour drive as often as we can to take photos of God’s incredible creation.
I asked Tom recently if he minded driving all the time while I photographed. His response was simply, “I love watching you love the drive.”
An added bonus is many artists have taken to the drive to bless others in their own way; they paint rocks and hide them for us to find. It adds an element of anticipation and joy to the whole experience.
Following are photos from our most recent visit. I hope they help you pause and take a moment to enjoy God’s creation too.
What things have you done recently for your spouse because you know it makes them happy? With the weight of current events pressing heavily on all of us, it is nice to know we can still find joy in slowing down and blessing our spouse in meaningful ways.
Conscience. It’s how God helps us grow in our relationship with Him and with others. Children usually have very tender conscience, and will quickly confess when their conscience is telling them they have done something wrong.
Our conscience is for our protection. If we ignore it enough it will cease to be heard. In order for our conscience to stay healthy we must listen to it and act when we know we should.
Those who choose to ignore their conscience move from conscience to guilt.
Those who are guilty, hide. Take Adam and Eve for instance; as soon as they sinned against God they hid themselves from Him. Rather than listen to their conscience and tell God what they had done. They became guilty and afraid and rightly so.
Take this same thought and apply it to your marriage.
If we have done something we know will hurt our spouse, we have two choices. 1. Listen to our conscience and talk to them about it or, 2. Decide we can handle it on our own and keep it a secret. Even if you have every intention of never doing this again, keeping it a secret almost guarantees that you will do it again given the right opportunity.
Why is confession so important?
“If we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
If we humble ourselves before God it will be easier to do the same with our spouse. Humility is the soil where all the other virtues grow. Cultivate this and you will make room to grow in all other areas. Pride hides, humility confesses.
We can make it easier on our spouse to be honest with us in several ways.
Talk about this issue before there is a reason talk about it.
Commit to each other that you will be open and honest, even when it is uncomfortable to do so.
Don’t react when they are telling you something they did or didn’t do. Listen first.
Assure your spouse that divorce isn’t an option.
Ask questions to find out more information. Oftentimes the one confessing is testing the waters to see how you will handle it. If it doesn’t seem safe, they won’t confess everything.
Pray with and for your spouse.
You are your spouse’s best friend, or should be. Treat your spouse like you would treat a close friend.
I know early in our marriage when we faced our first conflict requiring confession and repentance, that initial confession was the hardest. Once confession began, the words poured out like a waterfall. What felt releasing to one, felt like a smack in the face to the other. The one who sinned had finally regained a clean conscience, and the weight of it all released them from guilt.
The other however, had no idea this was coming. The weight of what they were hearing was incapacitating. By the grace of God we weren’t alone in this moment; The Holy Spirit walked us carefully through it and helped us learn, grow and change.
I’d like to say this was the only time it happened, but that wouldn’t be honest. We had just learned how to go forward in our marriage with a clear conscience, as long as we both guarded it for the good of the other.
The result? We became more accountable to each other. kept no secrets from each other e..g. private chats, phone numbers, activities, habits or contacts. This is still true to this day. We share passwords on all our devices. We can pick up each other’s phone at any time and not be offended that they’re looking. And we can talk about anything with which we are struggling.
It hasn’t gotten any easier. Sin never cooperates with the conscience for it knows that it must stay in the dark to survive. Our conscience is a gift from God, like a light showing the way out of darkness. The question to answer is, Who are you going to listen to?
Conversation Prompt: Plan an evening to talk about the condition of your consciences. It may be the best and most important conversation you’ll have for the future health of your relationship.
We have a huge, very healthy bougainvillea in our backyard. It is so large it is pushing our new fence and making it difficult to walk by it without getting scratched by it’s enormous thorns. We needed to prune it, but were afraid it wasn’t the right time.
Our winters in FL are mild. Bougainvilleas are tropical plants and don’t fare well in cold weather. We looked up the right time to prune, and we were happy to hear it is in early Spring when the plant is dormant. (Yes, January in FL can be like early Spring in the North. This is why we live here!)
Dormancy is a time in a plant’s lifespan where the roots grow deeper and the visible parts of the plant can look dead or dying. But for those of us who understand the seasons of a plant’s life, we know it’s just that—a season.
I have been telling Tom we needed a project, since our days look much the same week to week. This bougainvillea was just what we had been looking for that we could do together with satisfying results.
He did the trimming and I eyed the branches that needed to go. It took several days because we had to cut all the branches up small in order to put them in garbage cans for our yard waste collection day. Since we only have 5 cans for this purpose, it took us a total of 10 full cans of thorny trimmings by the time we were finished.
I believe this worldwide pandemic has put many marriages in a “dormant season” of sorts.
We can’t go and do like we used to, and when we do get out we have to don masks. I find myself preferring to stay home most of the time, which is not like the normal me at all! We sit, think and talk a lot, and we watch more television too. Many times our frustrations over it all comes out in how we speak to each other. And this requires us to talk more and apologize a lot.
Add to all this couples who are juggling work, homeschooling children and keeping the family healthy and busy, and these tensions can seem insurmountable. Like the branches of the bougainvillea there are thorns to watch out for where we will, at times, get hurt. Words can stab us and unspoken words can cut deep. The wounds caused by overgrown conflicts can seem too deep to heal. Is it worth the pain or should we just cut it down? Sadly, we have heard of many marriages breaking up in this season.
When we pause and consider the purpose of the dormant season, we realize God is at work doing a good thing in our marriage if we let Him. He is allowing us time to grow in our understanding of each other. He is helping our roots grow deeper as we seek the hidden springs of wisdom, which provides much needed nourishment and strength.
The beauty of a healthy marriage, like a healthy plant, is worth the risks. God created both for His glory.
Let’s make the most of this pause, this dormant time, and cultivate our marriages. The beauty of the new growth and blooms to come will be worth it.
I referred to it in our last post. Today I want to share the story that took our marriage from the honeymoon stage to the next level of intimacy–growth through heartache.
Tom and I wanted children. We had decided on two in our pre-marriage talks–a boy first, then a girl. It was a dream that I had held for as long as I could remember. I was thrilled when Tom and I decided to start trying for our first baby.
It’s an often-shared joke of how we had decided to wait two years to have a family. In my mind that meant getting pregnant at 1 years and 2 months so we would have our first baby by our second anniversary. In Tom’s mind that meant we would start trying after our second anniversary. It was a difficult time in our young marriage. But we finally agreed on our second anniversary.
When we found out I was pregnant we couldn’t keep our news to ourselves; We announced it to everyone–even the UPS delivery guy, we called Boots. He was happy that we were so happy. That is, until we weren’t.
Tom had a meeting in Tampa for his job at Gordon’s Jewelers where he was asked to speak. Being only 6 weeks pregnant, I went with him to enjoy time by the pool. His meeting was at another hotel. He didn’t tell me where it was, only the name of it. I don’t recall why we didn’t stay in the same hotel, but it made what was about to happen the biggest challenge of our lives.
Tom left early. I slept in. When I awoke I was bleeding heavily. I was in shock! I called my obstetrician and the nurse’s voice became sympathetic. I knew that voice and it wasn’t encouraging. I was scared and alone. She told me to get to a hospital as soon as possible.
I cried and prayed. This couldn’t be happening, not here–not now! But it was and I didn’t know what to do.
We didn’t have cell phones or even beepers for that matter. I looked up all the numbers for the hotel chain Tom had mentioned and called each one to see if there was a conference taking place for Gordon’s. I found it and asked them to tell my husband he needed to call me right away. It was an emergency.
What I didn’t know is he was just walking up to the podium to speak when he got my message. I can only imagine that moment and the panic that ensued for him. He called me right away, and hearing his voice brought me to tears. He said he’d be right there, but didn’t say he would call an ambulance.
I heard the sirens, but being in a big city I had no idea they were for me.
A few minutes later a team of EMTs entered my room with a gurney ready to deliver a baby. When they saw me and that I wasn’t full term, their countenance changed. It was the same sympathetic look with which the nurse had spoken to me earlier. This kind EMT knelt next to my bed and explained that I would have to go to the ER where they could examine me.
Heartbroken and afraid, we drove to the hospital.
I’d love to say I found the same sympathy at the hospital, but I didn’t. In order to see if I was still pregnant they ordered a urine test–the only way to determine pregnancy at the time. It took 4 hours for results. The worst part? They didn’t allow Tom to come back with me, so I was alone for that time, crying and afraid of the news I would hear.
The ER nurse I likened to an army sergeant- harsh and impatient for anyone with signs of weakness. I’m not exaggerating. She told me in her matter-of-fact tone, “You’re having a miscarriage, and there is no way to save the baby. I happens all the time.”
Again, I’m alone. Tom doesn’t know what’s happening. After the four hours I was told they messed the test up and would have to do another one. At this point Tom had had it, and called our doctor in Orlando to see if it would be safe for me to drive the two hours home. He said yes, but for me to lay down in the car.
He demanded the ER dismiss me. They resisted his request and said if we left the hospital insurance wouldn’t pay the bill–we would be responsible. At this point Tom didn’t care, he just wanted me out of there. I felt rescued and relieved to be going home. Still no answers as we drove home in silence.
I did lose the baby. We had to tell all our family and friends the news. I was haunted by the what-ifs that lead to worry and fear. It was a hard season for us.
Upon returning to work, I couldn’t talk about it and told everyone I was fine. I asked my coworkers to tell our customers to not say anything about what had happened. I needed to move forward without crumbling every time someone asked, “How are you doing?”
Three months later is when we took our first planned vacation together to California. It was what we needed to heal and try again. God used this heartache to knit our hearts closer than we ever imagined. Tom had cared for me at my weakest, even when his heart was breaking too.
I realized then what lasting love looks like. It wasn’t a fairy tale about which I had always dreamed, but it was our story being written through all we would face together as husband and wife.
What heartaches did you experience in your early years of marriage? If we look back at them now we can see more clearly what God was doing for good in the midst of the heartache.
We had only been married a couple of years when we decided to take a trip across the country to visit Tom’s parents. I was a Florida girl, born and raised, and had heard about California my whole life, but had never been. I had watched all the Gidget movies growing up and knew all about the great waves drawing surfers from all parts of the world. I also knew all the Beach Boys hits by heart and would swoon over lifeguards and the whole beach vibe as a teenaged girl.
But I was now married and all of 22 years old. What would California be like for me at this time in my life? I was soon to find out.
Sailed on Tom’s uncle’s boat under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Spent a day in Yosemite National Park – just enough to realize how big God is.
Experienced our first earthquake (although I slept through it!)
Toured Universal Studios Hollywood and walked the sidewalk in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
Went to Del Coronado where I realized how cold the Pacific Ocean really is. There would be no bikinis worn in that cold water–wet suits would be necessary if you were to avoid hyperthermia.
Visited the San Diego Zoo and Tijuana, Mexico.
We were only there two weeks, but we literally saw it all. I realized what a blessing it was to have married a man who loved to travel and visit new places as much as I did. That was almost 40 years ago, but the the memories are as fresh today as they were then.
The best part of this trip? It was planned three months after losing our first baby to miscarriage. We needed time away to help us think about other things, and California Dreaming fit the bill. What we didn’t know was that we would conceive our first-born son while there. It’s ironic that he has loved California his whole life as well–including being an avid fan of the San Diego Chargers, that is until they moved to LA. A sad day in our family.
Today we played a game introduced to us while on our trip in 1981–Rummikub. Not only is this the game we played, it is also the exact game pieces we learned to play on this trip decades ago. Tom’s dad recently moved in with us from San Diego and while helping him clean out his home of 45 years, I found this gem! I hadn’t thought of it in years, but today it all came back.
What things did you do in your early years of marriage that you haven’t thought of in years? Spend time reminiscing and realize how much history you share together. It is our memories that make our marriage unique. No one else shares your stories. You don’t even have to talk about the details. Often it’s a knowing look that brings much of what you experienced together back to life.
For us California dreaming on this winter’s day brought an afternoon challenge of Rummikub. Who won? Well–I’m not saying. I was always told it isn’t nice to brag.
Face it, marriage is hard work. But when cultivated daily the fruit produced will satisfy for a lifetime. We're here to help with ideas and encouragement along the way. Having been married 40 years and counting, we share what we've learned with practical tips, Biblical Truths, Date night ideas to help you plow your own vineyard for God's glory.