2019 Is Bringing With It An Unexpected Direction From God

An unexpected direction from God this year. We are excited and ready to follow His lead.

The view from our cabin’s front porch

It happened last week. I didn’t see it coming, but God knew all along.

Most of you know that Tom and I have a cabin in Banner Elk, NC. You may also know that I have had the privilege of hosting Barefoot Ladies Retreats each summer there since we bought the cabin in 2013. It has been such a rewarding experience to watch as God, our Father, loves on His daughters. And Tom has been so supportive through it all, making sure the cabin is in good shape for our guests.

In my quiet time last week I was praying about the dates and topic for this year’s retreats. It was at the moment when I was impressed by God to not have retreats this year! What? At first I rejected the idea; certainly God couldn’t be calling me to do nothing! But as I considered it further I realized this was my 7th year; I had hosted 15 retreats thus far, and God was indeed calling me to a year of rest. I felt an immediate peace.

When I mentioned this to Tom he said he had had similar impressions but didn’t think I would like the idea. This led us to discuss why he thought I would not accept it. It was a good conversation about my tendency to react rather than listen, and his tendency to avoid unnecessary conflict. Hearing that God had spoken the same word to both of us was a comfort and as well as a confirmation. I was also glad to bring clarity to my need for Tom’s input in my life, and to repent of reacting to His lead. We agreed to work on this area in our marriage.

As I’ve considered the significance of this year, there are four great reasons for me to rest:

  1. We will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary (February 24),
  2. I will turn 60 (July 17)
  3. Tom will turn 65th (August 18).
  4. It will also be the 50th year since I asked Jesus to be my Savior in December.
  • Quite a year to pause and reflect on the goodness of God.
  • I share all this with you to bring home the fact that we never stop finding new ways to grow and change in our marriage. Let me ask you, how open and honest are you about such topics in your relationship? Can you talk about areas of resistance and learn from them? Or do you avoid the conflict altogether?

    Healthy marriages are constantly growing and changing as the years pass. We pray this describes your marriage.

    Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

    6 Questions To Evaluate The State Of Your Union

    It’s January, but more surprising than that–it’s 2019! It seems like yesterday when we were concerned about Y2K. We blink and time flies by at record pace. Yet it stays the same. Seconds turn to minutes. Minutes turn to hours. Hours turn into days, and then we ring in another New Year.

    This begs the question, how do we spend our time?

    Octavius Winslow said, “Time is a solemn and priceless gift, and involves a responsibility and an account of a most tremendous character.

    It is good at the end of the year to contemplate how we spent our time. It is also good to think of how we have invested in our primary relationship–our marriage. This is why we should consider the following questions in order to determine the state of our marriage union. Don’t delay. Before you know it 2020 will be knocking on our door. Today is the only day we can influence for either good or evil. Let’s choose the former.

    1. What significant discoveries have you made about yourself? Think on what you’ve learned in personal Bible study. Talk openly with your spouse about the challenge this has been for you or the victories you have had.

    2. What are at least three ways God has blessed us this year? Spend time thanking Him specifically together in prayer.

    3. What has been the biggest challenge for us and our marriage this past year? How have I helped or hindered you in dealing with it?

    4. When we consider how we communicate, how are we doing in terms of openness and depth of conversation? How do our needs and expectations differ?

    5. In what ways have you felt cherished by me? Spend time evaluating this question together.

    6. In regard to our sexual intimacy, how satisfied are you with our relationship? In what ways can we grow in our love and understanding of each other?

    May we all purpose this year to be more intentional in how we spend our time.

    We close with another quote from Mr. Winslow, “Time is the preface to eternity. And as the preface indicates the character of the volume, so our present use of time is the foreshadowing of our future eternal history. 

    Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, communication, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Priorities | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

    One Of My Favorite Things

    The story that inspired O Holy Night

    Photo credit Pinterest

    I love discovering the story behind songs I love.

    Tor Constantino, a friend we have come to know through blogging, asked his FB friends to share their favorite Christmas Carol. I was surprised at how many chose my favorite song , O Holy Night. This led me to wonder about the history of this well-loved song. I was amazed to discover it, and even more amazed that I’ve never heard it.

    I share with you the following in the hopes that it will encourage us all in the coming year to live up to the Truths of these inspired lyrics.

    In 1847, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was the commissionaire of wines in a small French town. Known more for his poetry than his church attendance, it probably shocked Placide when his parish priest asked the commissionaire to pen a poem for Christmas mass. Nevertheless, the poet was honored to share his talents with the church.

    In a dusty coach traveling down a bumpy road to France’s capital city, Placide Cappeau considered the priest’s request. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, Cappeau imagined witnessing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Thoughts of being present on the blessed night inspired him. By the time he arrived in Paris, “Cantique de Noel” had been completed.

    Moved by his own work, Cappeau decided that his “Cantique de Noel” was not just a poem, but a song in need of a master musician’s hand. Not musically inclined himself, the poet turned to one of his friends, Adolphe Charles Adams, for help.

    The son of a well-known classical musician, Adolphe had studied in the Paris conservatoire. His talent and fame brought requests to write works for orchestras and ballets all over the world. Yet the lyrics that his friend Cappeau gave him must have challenged the composer in a fashion unlike anything he received from London, Berlin, or St. Petersburg. 

    As a man of Jewish ancestry, for Adolphe the words of “Cantique de Noel” represented a day he didn’t celebrate and a man he did not view as the son of God. Nevertheless, Adams quickly went to work, attempting to marry an original score to Cappeau’s beautiful words. Adams’ finished work pleased both poet and priest. The song was performed just three weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. 

    Initially, “Cantique de Noel” was wholeheartedly accepted by the church in France and the song quickly found its way into various Catholic Christmas services. But when Placide Cappeau walked away from the church and became a part of the socialist movement, and church leaders discovered that Adolphe Adams was a Jew, the song–which had quickly grown to be one of the most beloved Christmas songs in France–was suddenly and uniformly denounced by the church. The heads of the French Catholic church of the time deemed “Cantique de Noel” as unfit for church services because of its lack of musical taste and “total absence of the spirit of religion.” Yet even as the church tried to bury the Christmas song, the French people continued to sing it, and a decade later a reclusive American writer brought it to a whole new audience halfway around the world.

    Not only did this American writer–John Sullivan Dwight–feel that this wonderful Christmas songs needed to be introduced to America, he saw something else in the song that moved him beyond the story of the birth of Christ. An ardent abolitionist, Dwight strongly identified with the lines of the third verse: “Truly he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name all oppression shall cease.” The text supported Dwight’s own view of slavery in the South. Published in his magazine, Dwight’s English translation of “O Holy Night” quickly found found favor in America, especially in the North during the Civil War.

    Back in France, even though the song had been banned from the church for almost two decades, many commoners still sang “Cantique de Noel” at home. Legend has it that on Christmas Eve 1871, in the midst of fierce fighting between the armies of Germany and France, during the Franco-Prussian War, a French soldier suddenly jumped out of his muddy trench. Both sides stared at the seemingly crazed man. Boldly standing with no weapon in his hand or at his side, he lifted his eyes to the heavens and sang, “Minuit, Chretiens, c’est l’heure solennelle ou L’Homme Dieu descendit jusqu’a nous,” the beginning of “Cantique de Noel.

    After completing all three verses, a German infantryman climbed out his hiding place and answered with, “Vom Himmel noch, da komm’ ich her. Ich bring’ euch gute neue Mar, Der guten Mar bring’ ich so viel, Davon ich sing’n und sagen will,” the beginning of Martin Luther’s robust “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come.”

    Continue reading at Beliefnet

    Enjoy this version by another favorite, Josh Groben.

    Happy New Year!

    Posted in Christian Marriage, Christmas, Holidays, Music, Worship | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

    10 Ways to Defer and Prefer Your Spouse This Christmas

    10 Ways to defer and prefer your spouse this Christmas

    If you have managed to open this post, you most likely have a minute to spare this Christmas Eve. Congratulations! Let me encourage you in this minute to make the most of this time.

    Pause.

    Breathe.

    Remember why we celebrate Christmas.

    Breathe again.

    Put aside your to-do list for just a moment.

    I want to help you make this Christmas special for your spouse. How, you ask? Isn’t it too late to buy one more gift? Most likely yes. But this has nothing to do with tangible gifts. This is about deferring and preferring your spouse for the next 24 hours.

    Deferring means to submit humbly to (a person or a person’s wishes or qualities).

    Preferring means promote or advance (someone) to a prestigious position.

    Why not defer to your spouse’s desires as a special way to communicate your love for them. Better yet, don’t tell them what you’re doing. Just do it. Prefer their wishes over your own because you love them. Here are a few ideas…

    1. Serve them their favorite breakfast. If it’s a family tradition, give them the first serving with a kiss.

    2. Make their coffee/tea and bring it to them.

    3. Allow them to open the first gift. Explain to your children why you are choosing to bless your spouse in this way.

    4. Rub their shoulders at some point during the day.

    5. Give them an unexpected, lingering hug.

    6. Make the bed.

    7. If neatness is important to your spouse, clean-up the gift wrap as the gifts are open.

    8. Give them your undivided attention as much as possible.

    9. Serve them first when it’s time to eat.

    10. Tell them or give them a card that communicates why it is your joy to defer and prefer them.

    It is easy for our spouse to feel overlooked during this busy season. I pray these ideas will help you be intentional in showing love to your spouse. Let’s purpose to do all we can to defer and prefer tomorrow. Merry Christmas!

    Posted in Christian Marriage, Christmas, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Holidays | Tagged , , ,

    Focus On Thanksgiving This Christmas

    Merry Thanksgiving Christmas allows thanks to shape our Christmas. Gratefulness is the key.

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for many reasons. The main one is it is the only holiday that isn’t bombarded with commercialism. Thanksgiving is the one day set aside where we pause and reflect on the blessings we have been given. And they are many. Nothing brings a smile to my face more than working in the kitchen together preparing food that will be enjoyed by everyone!

    It is fitting that Christmas follows Thanksgiving. We thank God for what He has done in our lives, and then He reminds us of the greatest gift of all–His Son, Jesus Christ.

    When we allow Thanksgiving to inform our Christmas, it doesn’t matter how many gifts are under the tree. It doesn’t matter what we lack, because what we have is much more than we could ask or think.

    What matters is

    • the breath we have to embrace another year

    • the ability we have to show our love to those who mean the most to us.

    • that we have life and it is abundant!

    Take time today to reflect on what you’ve been given. It will put the Merry into Christmas as nothing else can. Gratefulness is like that–the more grateful we are, the more we see the things for which we should be grateful.

    May we not take anything for granted this Christmas. We have no idea what 2019 holds for us, but we know the One who does. And He has proven over and over again that He can be trusted. Even if we don’t understand what He does. God is good and this season reminds us to remember Him with thanksgiving.

    May you have a Merry Thanksgiving Christmas!

    Posted in Christian Marriage, Christmas, Holidays, Thankfulness | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

    What We Didn’t Know Going In To Our Marriage

    When we said our marriage vows we had no idea of what lay ahead of us.

    A favorite gift from friends of the night sky the night we were married.

    When we said our marriage vows we had no idea of what lay ahead of us.

    We didn’t know…

    • In our first year we would move to the one city neither of us wanted to live.

    • I would face health concerns as a new bride that were frightening and hard.

    • There was unconfessed sin lurking in our hearts that would stretch our love to its limits.

    • Our first pregnancy would end in miscarriage.

    • We would struggle as Tom made a career change that involved a significant pay cut.

    • God would bless us with three children (not the two we had planned).

    • We would eventually buy the company where Tom had worked for 16 years, and where I had first worked out of high school. We didn’t know anything, but that God had united us to be one.

    So many highs and lows through the years that have made US who we are today. Our marriage consists of the journey and the commitment we made when we said our vows to “be there” for each other. This is why we are passionate about seeing marriages thrive. The lows in a relationship are as important as the highs. It’s in the lows where we discover the depth of our love and commitment to each other and to God. Just like in a valley–growth occurs in the lowest places.

    Maybe this Christmas you are facing a low. Our encouragement is for you to lean in to each other, don’t pull away. It’s the leaning in that allows your roots to grow deep together. But we know this is not easy. Our natural reaction is to pull away from anything that causes pain. Of course I’m not talking about abusive pain. If you are facing abuse in your marriage, whether physical or emotional seek safety and biblical counsel. The pain I’m talking about is common to all marriages. As you purpose to lean in and grow in your understanding of each other, you will discover a sweeter connection on the other side of the pain. We know this is true because we have experienced it over and over in our 40 years together.

    This Christmas may you grow not only in your love for each other, but also in your commitment to your vows.

    Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

    Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Conflict, Difficulty, Troubled Marriage, Wisdom in Marriage | Tagged , , ,

    Step Up To Greatness

    Photo Source: WKRN.com

    President George H.W. Bush has been honored well in his death by family, friends and even foes. I’m grateful that we, as Americans, haven’t lost our dignity in showing honor to whom honor is due. It has been refreshing to hear uplifting tributes to our 41st president no matter which side of the aisle you stand.

    The Washington Post quoted the following about President Bush and his passion to see a manned mission to Mars succeed.

    In 1990, President Bush urged his fellow Americans “to step forth with the will that the moment requires. Don’t postpone greatness. History tells us what happens to nations that forget how to dream.

    How we view life has a huge impact on how we live. And how we live impacts those we love.

    One thing our 41st President did well was love his wife, Barbara for 73 years.

    Photo Source: The Washington Post

    They were a team and no one could deny it. His vision for reaching Mars was inspiring yet never fulfilled. His vision for being committed to a life-long love to Barbara was not only attained but flourished.

    How willing are we to “step forth with the will that the moment requires” in our marriages?

    • It could be an uncomfortable conversation that needs to take place.
    • It may be we need to give in and let our spouse have their way in the matter.
    • Maybe we don’t have to prove our point.
    • Let the conflict diminish by overlooking the offense.
    • Have the will to think of your spouse as more important than winning the fight.

    The time to have a great marriage isn’t at the end of life. It is found in the day to day choices we make toward greatness. “Don’t postpone it,” as H.W. advised. Today is ripe with opportunities for greatness.

    He ends with the reminder of what happens to nations who forget how to dream. We have courtrooms full of marriages that have forgotten how to dream as well. How you think and act today will be the foundation your marriage is built upon in the years and decades to come. May we all follow President Bush’s advice in our marriages and step up to greatness! It is a privilege to take part in his lasting legacy of enduring love.

    President Bush, Thank you for the example your marriage provides us. May you Rest In Peace.

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

    Are You Hunkered Down?

    We have been watching the weather forecast for Northwestern North Carolina. They are predicting a huge winter storm to hit the area this weekend. We have friends who are taking their family to our cabin for a week, and they won’t be lacking in the snow department. Since they’re going to ski this is the best of news. The problem is getting there before the storm hits.

    Weather forecasts help us know how to prepare. Thanks to the science of meteorology we can anticipate and prepare for the road ahead.

    This is an important aspect of growing a healthy marriage. Some live each day without regard for what’s coming. They don’t think about a storm until it hits. Then the damage and necessary clean-up is massive.

    But even strong marriages, like weather forecasters, can’t be accurate in discerning what’s coming. What do we do when the storm hits?

    Hunker down.

    This is the phrase The Weather Channel uses incessantly when a hurricane is approaching FL. I have heard it so many times that it has become a mockery in our family. “I hear thunder…better hunker down!” To hunker down is to take your position and squat. In other words, you are in this for the long haul and you need to prepare yourself.

    Our marriages face many storms through the years. Some are self-inflicted and some are born through circumstances we face. A snow storm can be beautiful. We even call it a Winter Wonderland. Last week Tom and I enjoyed it for a few days, but we were happy to get in our car and drive home to The Sunshine State.

    The reason is the wonder of the snow’s beauty quickly fades when the ice melts. It’s then when you see the damage the storm wreaked underneath all the ice. It’s a muddy mess!

    Winter storms in marriage are when we pretend everything is okay, but the chill is palpable. Things look great on the outside, but underneath the damage is there waiting to be dealt with.

    Summer storms in marriage are those that blow in fast and pass through just as fast. We see it, experience the damaging winds, and then get to work cleaning up the debris left behind.

    Storms are necessary. God uses the wind to clean away damaged limbs in trees, and waters the ground supplying needed nutrients.

    What kind of storm is your marriage facing? Is the cold winter chill making it tempting to hunker down and hide? Is your first inclination to protect yourself, rather than seek to resolve the issue for the good of your marriage?

    We encourage you not to wait until the Spring to deal with the issues. Hunker down but in a healthy way. One that says, “I’m hunkered down and I’m not going anywhere until we deal with the issues at hand. Let’s talk!”

    This is how healthy marriages deal with conflict–like a weather forecaster–you see, are prepared and take necessary action.

    We pray your hunkering down this winter will be warm and cozy providing safe comfort from the winds that blow. It’s also a great time to talk about the things weighing on your heart concerning your relationship. Don’t wait. Your marriage is too important to ignore and no one is going to care about it or your spouse more than you.

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

    It’s December – Enjoy

    Click on photo for a special treat!

    Posted in Christian Marriage, Christmas, Finding Joy, Holidays, humor | Tagged , ,

    Date Night Challenge 2018 – The Letter “W”

    What a better way to celebrate this date than WALKING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND.

    Being at our cabin this was easier for us than when we’re in Orlando. Tom took me to Sugar Mountain Ski Resort to watch the skiers doing what they do. We enjoyed walking in the snow and having an unexpected snowball fight. I loved it.

    But being a Florida girl born and bred, I’m grateful we don’t live in this all winter long. I love a WARM WINTER.

    Merry Christmas season!

    Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas | Tagged , , ,

    Date Night Challenge 2018 – The Letter “X” – Xtra Special Advent Calendar

    I love it when November has an extra week after Thanksgiving. It makes it easier to transition from one big holiday to the next. If you’re like us, it’s easy for our marriage to take a back seat to all the planning, shopping and parties of the season. Before you know it you’re packing the decorations away and never had one special moment together.

    With this extra week, why not purpose to do something each day for your marriage? Kind of like an advent calendar. Sound romantic? It can be. Or make it practical. Whatever your marriage needs most to stay intentional, purpose to do it.

    Here is a peek at what we’re planning to do in no particular order…

    1 – Fix your favorite breakfast and sit down together and enjoy it.

    2 – Watch a Christmas movie with your beverage of choice.

    3 – Go to the mall and each pick out a new ornament for your tree. Let it remind you of something you both enjoyed the past year.

    4 – Declutter your bedroom and add some lights for ambiance. Decorate a small tree on which to hang each day’s advent idea.

    5 – Go out for ice cream. Something about ice cream when its cold outside makes it taste better.

    6 – Take a drive to see the Christmas Lights.

    7 – Each assemble and decorate gingerbread house. Make it a competition and let your kids vote on the winner the next day. Don’t have kids? Let your friends on FB be the judge.

    8 – Watch a Christmas Concert on You Tube or Netflix.

    9 – Find live Christmas Carolers and pause to enjoy their gift of music.

    10 – Enjoy a fire outside under the stars if weather permits.

    11 & 12 – Plan a surprise date for each other.

    13 – Watch another Christmas movie together.

    14 – Spend an evening looking back over the year. Talk about some of your favorite memories. Talk about how you have changed.

    15 – Host a dinner or ugly sweater party with a few of your closest couple friends.

    16 – Give each other a massage followed by a hot bath/shower.

    17 – Buy a special Christmas-scented candle that you light every night in your bedroom.

    18 – Read a Christmas Classic out loud together.

    19 – Put together a Thomas Kincaid puzzle while enjoying conversation.

    20 – Watch another Christmas movie together.

    21 – Meet at a nice hotel decorated for Christmas after work. Order an appetizer and drink before heading home for dinner. Or have dinner instead if the budget allows.

    22. – Pick a name together off a tree for children in need this Christmas. Go shopping together for the child you chose.

    23 – Take in a live show in your town. Many are offered for FREE.

    24 – Go ice skating or watch others do it.

    25 – Make it a point to hold hands and kiss often. Touching builds intimacy.

    The important thing to remember is to be intentional together this December. We must not waste these moments for one day they will be the memories we cherish.

    __________________________

    Our book Cherishing Us makes a great gift for your married friends and family members. A perfect way to begin the new year helping those you love be intentional in their relationship as well.

    Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Christmas, Date Night Ideas, Holidays, Priorities, Romantic Ideas | Tagged , , , ,

    Thank Full

    As I write we are on the road heading to our daughter’s home for Thanksgiving.

    Much has changed in our lives over the past 10 years, and Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in the same way as we did for years!

    Parents have passed away; children have married and moved to different states, siblings families have grown making it harder to gather, and we’ve grown older.

    But I am thank full.

    While our circumstances look different and not at all what I would have chosen, God has stayed constant. He hasn’t moved or changed or passed on. He is closer than I know and loves me more than I can imagine.

    Our marriage too, has been a constant. Having many friends who have experienced their spouse dying in the past few years, I am mindful to not take a single breath for granted. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, so each day must be appreciated for what it is–a gift!

    As we gather this Thursday around the table I know there will be a moment when I pause and notice NOW. It is all we have and it is enough.

    This Thanksgiving I can look back with thanks for what God has done, and I look forward with thanks for what I hope He will do. But most of all I will Be Thank Full for every smile, every hug, every provision God has provided right now.

    Happy Thanksgiving from our table to yours!

    Posted in Cherishing, Christian Marriage, Holidays, thanksgiving | Tagged ,

    Marriage Fertilizer

    Two years ago I inherited my late Mother-in-law’s Christmas cactus. It was small and in a temporary container when I brought it home from her house. But the blooms were beautiful. I knew it had potential to be more than what I could see. But there were steps I needed to take to make it happen.

    I replanted it into a nice ceramic dish, fertilized it and made sure it was in the proper place to flourish. And I am happy to say, it is! I am looking forward to seeing it bloom this year.

    Years ago Tom and I began pouring fertilizer on our marriage in the way of Healthy Marriage Tips. Each day I would share a new tip on our Facebook page as a daily reminder to be intentional in your relationship. They became a favorite on our page, which eventually led us to publish, Cherishing Us, 365 Tips for a Healthy Marriage.

    Today is the final day of our Countdown Sale.

    For $2.99 you can enjoy the benefit of adding fertilizer to your marriage, and we pray your marriage will grow stronger as a result.

    Here is a tip for you to consider and goes along with this post:

    Work on your relationship when things are going well, so your foundation is strong when the winds of adversity blow. ❤

    Posted in Cherishing, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , ,

    2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter “V”

    For our “V” date we decided to VOLUNTEER. This is a great way to invest in your marriage while giving to a cause that interests both of you.

    Tom and I had the privilege of VOLUNTEERING for our state elections by helping to distribute VOTER guides around the state. We loaded up and left on a Friday afternoon covering the NE part of the state.

    It was a fun road trip with stops every couple of hours. We were able to meet lots of fine people who serve our state heroically and thank them for all they do.

    Here are some other ideas for VOLUNTEERING:

    • Soup Kitchens
    • Boys/Girls Clubs
    • Homeless shelters
    • Disaster Relief
    • Habitat for Humanity
    • Humane Society

    There is a website called Volunteer Match, where you can type in your city and find out what opportunities are in your area.

    We also enjoy Date Night Orlando’s Do Good Date Night feature. Kristin Manieri shares:

    We make it fun and easy to volunteer together by facilitating a date night activity that’s unique, fun and connective but also rewarding. Couples are having oodles of fun, laughing together, reconnecting, making me friends, and discovering new sides to each other that even decades of togetherness can’t often reveal.

    Another bonus is that our volunteer experiences are commitment-free. Event attendees aren’t obliged to do orientation or commit to ongoing volunteer hours.

    We’ve created a blueprint for expanding Do Good Date Night beyond its hometown of Orlando, FL, and have already facilitated events in Ohio, Indiana and Louisiana.

    Click on her picture to hear more about Do Good Date Nights.

    Why not plan to VOLUNTEER together as a couple. We had a blast giving of our time to something that matters. And we made a memory that will last.

    ______________________________

    It’s Day Two of our Countdown Sale. Purchase our book, Cherishing Us, kindle version for only $1.99. Now through tomorrow morning at 8a.

    Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Dating Your Spouse | Tagged , , , , ,

    Countdown Sale Day One

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    10th Blogiversary Calls For A Countdown Sale

    Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

    Where were you 10 years ago? Tom and I embarked on our blogging journey a decade ago thinking it was primarily for our friends and church family to use and enjoy. But God had bigger plans in store. He intended to increase our sphere of friends who would encourage us in our marriage vineyard just as much as He would use us to encourage others. It has been an amazing journey that has given us much for which to be thankful.

    In this time we also met many marriage bloggers around the country who also shared our passion to see God encourage and strengthen marriages. Our relationship has grown as a result of their influence in our lives. We are a part of an amazing community called the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association. To them we say, “Thank you!

    10 years!

    We are grateful for the opportunity we have had to help marriages stay the course for a lifetime. The beginning of this year we published our first book, Cherishing Us, And to celebrate our 10th blogiversary we are hosting a Countdown Sale beginning tomorrow morning at 8a.

    How It Works

    Our Kindle edition will go on sale for only .99 cents 

    8a. Tuesday morning.

    If you don’t have a copy of our book yet, this is the deal you’ve been waiting for, but don’t delay. Each day the price will go up a dollar – Wednesday – $1.99 and Thursday – $2.99. Mark your calendar and get ready to grow in the area of cherishing your spouse the way God intended.

    Special thanks to Prevail Press, our amazing publishers!

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    Posted in Celebrations, Cherishing, Christian Marriage, Purpose | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

    2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter “U”

    It’s been a while since we’ve posted about our date challenge. That’s due to the fact that the two letters for October were a “challenge” to plan.

    • I had an unexpected trip to GA to help our youngest daughter who was babysitting for our oldest daughter. One weekend gone.
    • Tom volunteered to help with this year’s election, Get Out The Vote, initiative. This took him away for another weekend.
    • We traveled the northern part of the state distributing Voter Guides to different counties requesting them. Three weekends gone.

    And in the off time when we were together, we were too tired to plan anything. We understand when you say you’re too busy to think, much less plan a date. But we must if we are to lean into our relationship during busy seasons. Otherwise we drift!

    We decided to make our “U” date – Unplugged.

    We spent an entire day not using our Smart Phones, computers or tablets. It was a challenge in the truest definition of the word. It forced us to think and ponder, which is hard to do with the distractions always available to us. As we pondered we talked, and as we talked we grew in our Understanding of what is on our minds and why. There was a moment when Tom made a conclusion about something that I don’t think he would have reached without being Unplugged. It was worth it!

    Unplugging is a hard, but necessary choice to make from time to time. It is good for us personally and relationally. If you’ve not tried it, we encourage you to do so. You may discover what is really weighing on your heart. It takes pondering and being Undistracted to hear the whisper.

    Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas | Tagged , ,

    Erasing Your Spouse

    Have you ever shared something with your spouse and realized they hadn’t heard a word you said? Either they were distracted by their gadgets or the TV, but it was obvious they weren’t listening to you.

    If we’re honest we have all done this from time to time. Why? Why is it so easy to ignore, intentionally or not, the one with whom we share the deepest bond?

    We tend to let our guard down when we are in our own home. We know that our spouse loves us so what’s the big deal?

    It’s a big deal because this little habit can be the start of erasing the priority your spouse has in your heart. If you make them feel invisible, they will believe they no longer matter to you.

    Gary Thomas in his excellent book, Cherish, tells how one husband and wife shared a home office together. One day she finished her work before he did, and began clicking on social media updates. She found something interesting about a friend and began sharing it with her husband.

    He was in the middle of substantial project and felt his project was much more important than her friend’s current FaceBook status. However, he cared more about his wife than he did his work project, so he stopped for a moment and listened to what she had to say.

    Leaning in and listening to your spouse lets them know that they matter to you.

    What if we made a conscious effort to keep the lines of communication open at all times? What if our spouse knew without a doubt that they have our ear whenever they need it? This is one mark of a healthy marriage–one with a firm grip on esteeming, not erasing, the other.

    Don’t be an eraser!

    Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Priorities | Tagged , , ,

    Have You Been Nudged?

    This morning as I was getting ready I felt a nudge from the Lord. I was compelled to tell Tom how grateful I am for the way he takes care of our finances. He is faithful in this area and has been our entire marriage. And it is because he is that I sadly often fail to tell him.

    I stopped what I was doing and went to his office where he was ironically paying our bills. I shared with him what was on my mind and my gratitude for never having to worry about money. I could tell the encouragement was not only appreciated, but needed.

    God knew this; that’s why I was nudged. I’m grateful I took the time to listen.

    This begs the question, how often have I missed opportunities like this to encourage my husband in the exact moment when he needs it?

    May we all listen in and respond to those little nudges. Our marriages will be the stronger for it!

    Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Cherishing, Christian Marriage | Tagged , , , ,

    A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes

    The title of this post is a famous line from a Disney movie, Cinderella. But it begs the question, what do you dream of? This is the kind of question that makes for a great date.

    I’ll never forget sitting with Tom around a fire pit one night when the topic of dreams came up. Tom had to pause because he wasn’t sure what he dreamed of doing. He had seen many of his earlier dreams come true, and hadn’t given much thought to making new ones. We talked a bit more and then it felt as if the sky opened up with possibilities. We talked about everything we could imagine. It was one of those nights when we connected on a deeper level and we’ll never forget it.

    Dr. Julie Conner has written an excellent post titled, 7 Reasons Why It’s Crucial To Have A Dream. She says,

    “Passion fuels dreams. Commitment fuels action. Get clear about what you want to do and why you want to do it. Allow time to regularly reevaluate and refine your goals. Make adjustments within your schedule to engage in goal-related activities. And, most importantly, commit to the work of pursuing your dream. Take action.

    What if we were to apply her steps to creating the marriage of our dreams?

    Passion fuels dreams.

    Have you lost the passion to grow your marriage that you had at first? Maybe you’ve never thought about growing your marriage once you made the commitment on your wedding day. It is crucial to a healthy marriage to continue to be passionate about it.

    Commitment fuels action.

    Being committed to make your marriage the best it can be is essential for a healthy marriage. If one spouse is committed and the other is not your marriage will not become all God intended it to be. Make a decision each day as if it were your wedding day. Decide that you want to do your part to be the best spouse you can be so that if your husband/wife had to choose again whom they would marry, it would still be you.

    Get Clear on the What’s and Why’s of a Good Marriage

    We have spent out lives helping couples realize the what’s and why’s of pursuing a strong marriage that lasts. Our blog is full of posts to inspire and help you develop the areas where you are weak into strength worth emulating.

    Regularly Reevaluate and Refine your Goals

    This is the one that requires the most crucial aspect of a healthy marriage–communication. Your intentions may be good, but if you fail in communicating it to the point of understanding then you may still miss the mark. If you aren’t good at communicating in a positive way we encourage you to seek help either through books, or through a pastor or friend who excels in this area.

    Make Adjustments in your Schedule to Meet Your Goals

    Our pastor often said you can tell what your priorities in life are by looking at two things: your calendar and your checkbook. So true! We make time for the things that are important to us. And the Bible says, “Where your treasure is, your heart will follow” Invest time and money in making your goals for a healthy marriage a reality.

    Commit to the Work Necessary

    This one may seem a given, but commitment in this day in age is waning. It seems no one wants to commit to anything that lasts longer than a minute.

    • You see it in how young people are choosing to wait to get married
    • You see it in couples waiting longer to have children,
    • A hesitancy to join church small groups or church membership,
    • A lack of job loyalty,
    • A hesitance to respond to a party or event.
  • People hesitate to commit because something better may come along, or worse, they may get hurt.
  • Take Action

    Be faithful to do the things you say you’ll do. “A heart deferred makes the heart sick…” the Bible declares. Don’t make your spouse’s heart sick! Be a doer of all the things you say you’ll do. Even the little things matter because they speak volumes to your spouse of your love, care and commitment.

    What is your spouse dreaming will come true? Maybe it’s that your marriage will be all God intended it to be.

    Josh Wilson has a new song out titled, Dream Small. Take some time to listen to it and see if it doesn’t inspire you to continue dreaming together about what could be.

    _________________________

    (Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/@wbayreuther)

    Posted in Christian Marriage, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments