Anticipating What’s to Come

What a privilege it is to encourage you and your marriage to grow. It is a responsibility we don’t take lightly. When life requires our attention there is a constant struggle of wanting to give you our best, yet take care of those closest to us. This is the reason for this post.

Our youngest daughter is getting married in January, and we are in serious countdown mode. I went with her for her final dress fitting this week and was filled with emotion as I worked hard to not become a blubbering mess. She has waited a long time for the right man to come along, and we could not be happier. Our soon-to-be, son-in-love adores our daughter. He is an answer to a lifetime of prayer.

We are very aware that our time with her in our home is limited, as she will also move out of state when she becomes a Mrs. That will mean all three of our children will call different states home. We are obviously doing our part to cover the southern states, something I never expected. This is why we are pulling back from writing in anticipation of what’s to come. We hope you understand.

In the meantime, please enjoy browsing through our blog for inspiration and help. Don’t miss our Romantic Christmas Ideas located under the Only Husbands and Only Wives tab.

Lastly, we pray your Christmas is filled with moments you’ll cherish forever as you celebrate the birth of our Savior. Without Him, our marriages would lose their meaning and purpose.

We invite you to enjoy the following as our gift to you…

Have a very Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

Tom and Debi

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Posted in Christian Marriage, Christmas, Holidays, Priorities | Tagged , | 3 Comments

#GivingTuesday Starts At Home

For the past 6 years Giving Tuesday has been encouraging people to give away to others as a way to better their community. But it isn’t limited to your own backyard; people have traveled around the world to give to those in dire need. You can read their stories here.

But today I want to draw our attention closer to home.

What if we were to take this #givingtuesday mentality and give to our spouse the same kindness we give to others. We might be surprised how kindness can transform our marriage when practiced. Take a minute and think of one thing you could do today to make your spouse’s life easier. Or better yet, what is something that your spouse is passionate about? Do something to support their passion in an unexpected way.

Tom recently did this for me. We were at Kari Jobe’s Garden Tour when they shared about World Vision–an organization where you can adopt a child in need. My heart is always stirred with compassion during such presentations. Knowing this, Tom raised his hand to receive a packet and filled it out for us to participate. My heart was thrilled knowing we could play a part in one child’s life to give them hope for a better future.

Later, when I asked Tom why he raised his hand, he said, “I did it for you.” Ah, such a kind gesture that spoke volumes to me of his love and care.

So on this #givingtuesday, let’s outdo one another in showing acts of kindness. We want to make the world better and the best place to start is at home.

Posted in Christian Marriage

Our Only Hope For Thanksgiving

Today we are in the throes of Thanksgiving prep as many of you are as well. But each year something happens unexpectedly that can throw a wrench in our well-thought plans, and this one is no exception. How do we navigate these disappointments without letting them ruin the day?

Michele Morin, at (in)courage.me, shares a post titled, Thanksgiving Celebration and Lament, that will point your gaze in the right direction this Thanksgiving, I know it has ours.

Thanksgiving Day serves as an annual reminder that we live with one foot in celebration and the other in lament. Our only prayer for peace is to own the sadness; to recognize the power that grinding sorrow has over our hearts — and then to throw the door wide open to the feast.

By acknowledging and even embracing lament — an art we have lost here in North America — our celebration can be restored. Our feasting can be deeply sincere, even in a context of deep suffering or deep disappointment.

Take some time to click over and read it. And then tomorrow, remember that your sorrows and disappointments don’t ruin your celebration, they remind you of your need for God and His care in the midst of it. He was a man of sorrows and was acquainted with grief. He alone can comfort you as you celebrate all He has done.

Happy Imperfect Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Tom and Debi

Posted in Christian Marriage | 3 Comments

Orlando Guide To Free Date Nights

We love discovering new places to explore together that cost nothing. The Orlando Date Night Guide has released just the resource to make it easier than ever to plan.

75 Free Things To Do In Orlando

Check out #14–it’s where Tom proposed to me 39 years ago. 😊

Make regular dates a part of your 2018 New Year’s resolution. You might also consider joining our Date Night Challenge. Tom and I are really looking forward to it. I already have my “A” date idea in the works, but I can’t tell you yet–it’s a surprise!

It’s going to be an exciting year for marriages as long as we stay focused and intentional in learning and growing more about each other and our relationship with Christ for His glory.

Posted in Christian Marriage

2018 Date Night Challenge

Is it just us or does life seem to be really serious and challenging right now? We have felt this way most of the year, and it doesn’t seem to be letting up. If anything it’s ramping up to a challenging 2018. This caused us to take stock of where we are in our relationship. We need to have some fun in the midst of it all and connect intentionally and regularly.

We have decided to take us up on our own Alphabet Date Night Challenge starting in December and continuing all through next year. 

Since there are 26 letters of the alphabet, we will each take a letter a month to plan a fun surprise for each other. December we will plan dates around the letters A and B. We will share with you what we did on the Friday post following the date.

We shared these ideas originally in our series on Alphabet Dates. Check them out for ideas. 

We invite you to take us up on this date night challenge. It helps to have the inspiration of others to keep us on track. If you’d like you can put all the letters in a jar, then draw your two letters randomly for the month to add a bit more excitement. Send us an email at theromanticvineyard@gmail.com to sign up. Be sure and use #alphabetdates2018 on social media, so we can follow your adventure.

We are looking forward to being intentional in 2018. We hope you’ll join us!

Posted in Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Creative Dates, Date Night Ideas, Dating Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages

Attributes of a Healthy Marriage – Friendship

This one may seem like a given, but it isn’t. We have encountered far too many couples who after years of marriage have nothing in common. This is a dangerous place to be. We become vulnerable to the wiles of the enemy whispering, “Is this all there is?”

If you find yourself in this place it is not too late to make changes, but it won’t be easy. Healthy marriages are never easy to build or maintain. It takes constant effort. Marriage is like one rowing on a fast flowing stream. To stop rowing guarantees you will drift going where you don’t want to go. Don’t do it!

It helps to remember where you started.

It may have been years ago, but it is worth the effort. Take out old photos of things you did and places you visited. Reminisce the good old days and allow your friendship to spark again.

Psalm 9:1 says: “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”

Friends enjoy doing things together. Even if you have little in common do the unselfish thing and take an interest in what your spouse enjoys.

Philippians 2:3-4 says: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

A few years ago I got to thinking about what our life would look like with grown children who no longer live with us. I knew Tom loved to play golf, and I had only ever played Putt-Putt– hardly the comparison. So I took golf lessons. My goal was to become good enough to keep up with him on the course without causing him dread when I asked to play. It took three years, but now we enjoy spending a day together doing something he loves. (A side note: I love golf now too, and I’m pretty good at it–so Tom says.)

It’s easy to excuse ourselves because that’s just not who we are. But a healthy marriage requires us to consider our spouse’s interest above our own. I know that has a sting to it, but better for us to put a sting on ourselves than to be stung by the pain of a drifting marriage.

What’s the practical application to cultivating friendship in marriage?

  • Study your spouse. Even if you are years away from having an “empty nest”. Keep up with what they love and find interesting.
  • Cultivate your friendship. Friends are friends because they make a priority of being together.
  • Find ways to laugh together. The Bible says laughter is good for the soul like a medicine.
  • Make love often–this is the one aspect of your friendship that no one else can satisfy for your spouse. Connecting skin-to-skin goes a long way in building intimacy.
  • Don’t cultivate any other friendship more than you do that with your spouse. We all need friends of the same sex. They are gifts from God to us. It is important to talk with your husband before you mention it to your girlfriends. Make his friendship and advice the one you seek first.
  • Husbands, this goes for you as well. Don’t make your man cave a higher priority than you do date nights with your spouse. The unspoken words communicated by doing so speaks volumes to her.

If I were to observe you and your spouse on a dinner date, would I see a couple who enjoy quality time together? I pray so.

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Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, communication, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages | 2 Comments

Honestly, Honesty is Hard

Meme credit: The Mission

The title says it all. In our last post we shared that honesty was an attribute of a healthy marriage. We received lots of comments about how difficult this is to do.

Billy Joel sings it well…

If you search for tenderness

It isn’t hard to find

You can have the love you need to live

But if you look for truthfulness

You might just as well be blind

It always seems to be so hard to give

Honesty is such a lonely word

Everyone is so untrue

Honesty is hardly ever heard

And mostly what I need from you

That last line.. .“mostly what I need from you”…is the secret to deepening your marriage bond.

I’ll never forget the first time Tom and I were really, gut-level honest with each other. It was during our third year of marriage and I was 8 months pregnant with our first baby. We had a heart-to-heart talk where we told each other things about our struggles that we had never shared before. It was the beginning of learning to trust each other enough to be vulnerable in the hurtful place.

What we had to share was difficult because we were disclosing areas of sin and weaknesses that we had told no one—ever! And you know what? We discovered our hearts could handle the truth because we had a Savior who had handle our sin for us. This allowed us to extend grace when grace was needed most.

I’m not saying that the road was easy.

It was probably one of the most difficult seasons of our young marriage. But now, looking back, we can see the dots of God’s faithfulness to us. Each “Honesty session” as we called it back then, caused us to take a deep breath as we plummeted the depths of what motivated our actions. It was raw. It was painful. It was like a surgery of our hearts, making us into one flesh.

And this was not the only honesty session we had, it was just the first. Firsts are always hardest because you don’t know where it will lead you. Will it be better or worse as a result? That depends largely on the commitment you each have to the covenant of marriage. Tom and I had said from day one that divorce was not an option no matter how difficult our marriage might become, and this commitment carried us well through the rough waters of honesty.

That first session was 36 years ago, and we have weathered many more as recently as last week. But now there is a foundation of trust between us that we can talk about whatever struggle or temptation we might be facing and know that we won’t be alone, as Billy Joel sadly concludes.

What areas have you found difficult to be honest about with your spouse? We encourage you to do the hard work and allow your spouse into the discussion. They may have the keys to unlock the answers you’ve been searching for.

Posted in Besetting Sins, Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Temptation, The Gospel & Marriage | Tagged , ,

Happy Hour

It’s time for our weekly specials – those blog posts that we have discovered and think are worth your time to read over the weekend. Enjoy…

Gary Thomas

Hot, Holy and Humorous

The Forgiven Wife

  • Sexual Honesty – Chris shares from her own life how difficult it was to grow in this area of honesty with her husband.

The Generous Husband

The Generous Wife

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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

Attributes of a Healthy Marriage – Honesty

At the start of this post, I need to make it clear that there are two types of honesty that can impact a marriage–the healthy kind (which we’ll discuss in today’s post), and the unhealthy kind. The unhealthy kind chooses to say whatever is on the mind without regard for how it is said or how it will be heard. Such harsh words will often be followed with, “I’m just being honest!”, which sounds virtuous, but it’s not. Being honest to the detriment of your relationship is abusive at it’s worst, and thoughtless at it’s best. Don’t do it!

Healthy honesty is the ability to share what is on your heart without pointing a finger of blame towards your spouse. It is being vulnerable, teachable and humble sprinkled with lots of kindness. Sound difficult? It is and it takes a life time of making mistakes and apologizing for the hurt we have caused.

 Honesty requires us to be truthful about our observations of our spouse for their good. It’s being willing to say the hard things out of love with the desire to see them grow and change. It’s finding the best words to say, which requires a commitment to communicate on a deeper level.

♥  Honesty requires us to be vulnerable about why we see, think or feel the way we do. It demands that both of us are completely engaged in the conversation, no half-hearted listening.

♥  Honesty requires a teachable response. If your spouse shares with you that you have a habit that is embarrassing, and it’s something you didn’t realize. One who is teachable would respond, “Really? Can you tell me the next time I do that? I don’t want to be that way.”

♥  Healthy honesty requires humility. One who is proud says whatever they are thinking because they are convinced that what they are seeing is the only way–the right way. A humble person realizes that they are only seeing one side of the issue. They are willing to discuss all options before making a final conclusion.

♥  Honesty requires kindness if it is to be helpful. Even if what you have to say is hard to hear, saying it carefully with kindness will go a long way in winning your spouse’s heart in the matter. Consider a mom who struggles with being angry with the kids. Her husband sees this as an area in need of change, but instead of attacking his wife with anger, he asks if he can make an observation?

♥  Honesty also requires the right time to talk. Trying to talk about difficult things when you’re distracted, stressed or exhausted isn’t a good idea–ever! Instead, plan for it.

Finally, pray about what you are seeing. We are both sinners who see through the glass dimly. We can’t assume that what we are seeing is accurate. It may be that God will have you overlook what you are seeing–probably more often than not. Just because we see something doesn’t necessarily mean we need to point it out. However, God may have you bring it to their attention. If He does ask open ended questions (Did you notice…? Did you mean to…? Do you realize how your words…?) rather than speaking with judgmental words (You always…you never…you were just…fill in the blank!)

We have a lifetime to learn how to master honesty in a positive way. Don’t be surprised when you mess it up. We all do! It’s what you do with the messes that determine if your marriage is heading in the healthy direction or not.

 

 

 

Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

The Rhythm Of Routine


I am up early this morning; my favorite part of the day. The house is quiet. A candle flickers on the table. My Bible is in hand. It’s my time with the One who knows me best and loves me most.

I love looking for the one verse that stands out to me and then meditate on it allowing the Spirit to encourage my soul. And I love the fairly new routine I have of texting that verse to each of my grown kids to encourage them in their busy routines.

Routines reveal what is important to us. They keep us grounded when the world seems chaotic. They are good for us in that they help us remember why we do what we do.

  • Making the bed daily reveals that order is important to you.
  • Spending regular time alone studying God’s Word reveals a desire to know Him and all that He has disclosed to us.
  • Being involved in a local church reveals a priority of growing in your walk with Christ and other believers.
  • Having regular date nights reveals the priority you place on your relationship with your spouse.
  • Making love regularly with your spouse reveals the importance intimacy has in your heart.

Have you considered the routines you have? Have you considered why? How do you feel when your routines are disrupted? 

All of these questions help us get a better grasp on who we are and where we are heading. It’s important to note that not all routines are good ones.

  • Spending too much time connecting with people on social media can be a detriment to real, face-to-face time with friends and family.
  • Making it a routine to sleep late can be a detriment to your responsibilities.
  • A routine of sitting on the couch watching TV night after night can be a detriment to your growth as a Christian.
  • Denying your spouse sex can be a huge detriment to your marriage.

Notice I said, “can be”. As the wise King once said, “there is a time for everything…” there are times when it’s okay to do all these things. However it doesn’t take long for necessity to turn into indulgence or manipulation in some cases.

I’m fighting a cold right now and resting all day is good for me. But in my heart I’m longing to return to the routines that I enjoy. I know all too well that laziness can creep in if I’m not careful. Only I know the struggles in my heart and the temptations I have to over-indulge certain things. This is why God instructs is…

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Good routines help us keep our heart on track and allow the springs of life to flow freely. It’s a rhythm only we can hear.

What routines do you practice each day? Spend some time talking about it together on your next date night and see how you might encourage each other in areas needing growth or change.

The sun is about to rise on another day—let us rejoice and be glad that we can once again walk to the rhythm of our routines for His glory, for He is our routine-keeping God!

Posted in Christian Marriage

The Attributes of a Healthy Marriage – Cherish

Cherish is a word most of us use in our wedding vows, but most likely don’t realize what it means.

Cherish: to keep or cultivate with care and affection; to entertain or harbor in the mind deeply and resolutely;  (“Cherish.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2017.)

We are hosting a Marriage Community Group in our home and are reading Gary Thomas’ new book, Cherish, along with watching his excellent DVD series. The conversations have been lively, challenging and fun as we consider together what it looks like to cherish our spouse on a daily basis.

These are a few of the ways we can cherish our spouse:

  • Think the best of your spouse.
  • Give them the benefit of the doubt.
  • Cherish them in ways that are meaningful to them, not you.
  • Show them honor in front of others as well as in private.
  • Listen with your eyes.
  • Listen not because the topic interests you, but because of the one who is talking.

As you can see cherishing our spouse means putting them in the place of honor and respect in our heart, mind and actions. Oftentimes we wait for our spouse to deserve our praise, when in fact we should praise them to encourage them.

Gary said, “It makes me want to be a better man, to be the man she thinks I am.”

How are you doing in the area of cherishing your spouse? If you’re like us, even after 38 years of marriage, we still need to grow. Why not start today?

You can order the book and DVDs here and here.

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Posted in Christian Marriage, Encouraging Your Spouse | Tagged , ,

Happy Hour

Hot, Holy and Humorous

  • Are You A High-Maintenance Lover? – This post is an excellent way to evaluate the quality of your sex life. You might be surprised to discover you are, indeed, “high maintenance”.

Messy Marriage

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

  • How To Help Your Husband Fight Temptation – Sheila provides helpful advice on how to work together as a team and not give in to attacking each other. Be sure and read the comments as well. Great stuff!

 

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

Keeping The Home Fires Burning


Tom was two badges shy of becoming an Eagle Scout when he quit, a choice he regrets to this day, yet what he learned during his Boy Scout training is so valuable.  I have benefited from his knowledge and skill in a variety of situations. The most important one he learned was to never panic. He is rock solid when it comes to emergencies and I am so grateful, since I tend to operate on the other side of the panic spectrum. He calms me and reassures me that things will be okay.

We were at our cabin last week when the temps dropped into the “let’s build a fire” zone. It got me thinking about how building a fire relates to building intimacy in marriage.

I asked Tom if he had ever started a fire using flint rock. To my surprise he had. He went on to explain how it works…


I watched this video of the whole fascinating process. Seven steps to build a successful fire from nothing more than a knife and flint rock.

If building such a fire works, how many steps does it take to build intimacy in marriage? I wish it were always this easy, but if given the right preparation it can be.

Anyone who has been married more than a few weeks knows that husbands and wives are completely different when it comes to intimacy. It is helpful to understand and appreciate the differences in order to build a lasting fire. Like the flint and the knife which are two completely different things yet when they each do their part, sparks ignite!

Many couples are surprised by the differences and spend much of their first year trying to figure out the how’s and why’s of it all. Some even try to change their spouse which never works. God created us different for a reason. It’s the differences that make our marriage unique from all others.

We encourage you to spend some time talking over the differences you’ve discovered when you’re both in the mood to think objectively. Discuss how you might grow together towards intimacy rather than letting the cool winds of indifference snuff out your passion. Here are some good questions to get you started:

  1. What does intimacy mean to you?
  2. In what ways do I encourage our intimacy?
  3. In what ways do I hinder it?
  4. If I could focus on one area to improve in our relationship, what would you want it be?
  5. What do you love the most about us?
  6. What in our marriage causes you to long for change? The thing that makes you say, “If only he/she would do ‘this’?”

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, in order for our marriage to continue growing in all areas we must be intentional. Keeping the home fires burning is no different. Is it time for you to stir the embers and add some fresh wood to get yours burning hot again?

(Photo Credit  http://survivingtheaftermath.com/index.php/necessities-skills/31-how-to-start-a-campfire-yourself)

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

The Attributes of a Healthy Marriage – TRUST


So often we focus on what not to do, and miss the things we can do to improve our marriage. Thus, I want to begin a series focusing on the many attributes of a healthy marriage.

Attribute One – TRUST

I just finished my last ladies retreat for 2017 where the theme was TRUST. During the retreat we made the theme into an acrostic we focused on each day. I realized that TRUST is such an important aspect of a healthy marriage. It is required to grow in all areas of intimacy. Without it we are left suspicious of each other and question the motives behind every decision, even the good ones.

T = Thanksgiving

Every marriage has things for which you can be thankful. Sometimes they are more obvious than at other times, but choosing to look for them is the first block in building trust. Start by asking questions…

  • What does your spouse do on a regular basis that makes your life easier?
  • What are the things your spouse has always done for you that if they stopped you would notice?
  • What things do other family members or friends commend your spouse for?
  • What are things you can always count on your spouse to do without being asked or told?
  • What is your spouse’s character strength?

Meditate on your answers and then communicate your appreciation to your spouse about them. Let thanksgiving be the foundation for a growing trust.

R = Remember

Reflect back on what attracted you to your spouse in the first place. Take long looks at your spouse and remember why it was you chose to marry them. Make a list and share with your spouse over dinner what you appreciate most about your history together.

U = Understanding

It is easy to talk to each other, but more challenging to understand each other. It has been said that we have two ears and one mouth, therefore we should listen twice as much as we speak.

In this day of distractions, really listening to each other is becoming more difficult. We must pursue it intentionally or there is a good chance we’re only skimming the surface of true understanding. When was the last time you looked your spouse in the eyes while they shared with you what was on their mind? If you can’t remember, then it’s time to practice this discipline.

Trust depends on understanding why your spouse thinks and acts the way they do.

S = Secure

As you grow in your understanding of your spouse, you become more secure in their actions. You are no longer left wondering why did they do that? or why do they think that way? Instead, your communication skills help you arrive at the proper conclusions allowing you avoid unnecessary misunderstandings that lead to conflict.

T = Tranquility

Tranquility means the state of being calm, peaceful, quiet, free from disturbance. What a way to live! As we grow in our trust of each other this is the lasting effect.

Whenever we aren’t experiencing this in our marriage, it’s a good indication that trust has been breached. It may be a legitimate reason or perceived, but in either case it must be discussed. Talk about the areas where you are struggling to trust your spouse–it may be in finances, how they spend their time, their priorities, parenting decisions (or lack of), in-law tension. As you can see there are a host of ways our trust can grow weak allowing suspicion to grow. Only you know the thoughts you are entertaining about each other. Realize that you are on the same team–marriage isn’t a competition. When it becomes one, you both lose!

Without trust it is impossible to have a healthy marriage, and likely one that won’t last. We want to do all we can to encourage trust between us. It is imperative to a relationship that stands the test of time.

Posted in Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Thankfulness, The Gospel & Marriage | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Spiraling Upward – Five Exercises to Start The Process


We’ve all heard of the downward spiral in marriage. One negative word leads to another which leads to neglecting each other and so it begins. Oftentimes its harmless at first. It may start with off-handed criticisms said in a joking way. But such words are like little darts being thrown at your spouse. Overtime and with enough darts it can permanently wound, or even kill your relationship.

Don’t do it!

Let’s instead talk about ways to help our marriage spiral upwards. This won’t happen on it’s own. We must make intentional choices for the good of our spouse and marriage.

  1. Cuddle skin to skin. There is scientific evidence that proves when we connect skin-to-skin it releases oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone”. If you are feeling distanced from each other either due to schedules or conflict, try holding each other each night before sleeping and see if it doesn’t draw you closer mentally and emotionally as well. It may even lead to some physical intimacy–a gift married couples share alone.
  2. Pick a favorite love song and while it’s playing look each other in the eyes for the duration of the song. It may seem hokey at first, but there is something that happens when we slow down for even 5 minutes to give our spouse our full-attention.
  3. Hold hands wherever you are going, no matter what you’re doing. It signifies to your spouse that you are near, and it tells the world that you belong to each other.
  4. Play the Name 3 Game. When the kids are in bed and you are without distractions ask your spouse to name three of whatever category you choose. It could be restaurants to try, places to visit, recipes you’d like to learn to cook, or new positions for making love. Or it could be based on your emotions–3 times you’ve been the happiest or laughed the hardest.
  5. Play the romantic memory game. Spend an evening making a list of as many romantic memories you can each think of. Make it specific rather than broad and you’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up.

As you can see these are simple exercises that build intimacy together. We challenge you to spiral upward. We hear the views are incredible up there!

(Some of the above as well as the photo was found at Marriage.com)

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Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Happy Hour

It’s time to share with you posts that stood out to us this week. We pray you’ll find the time to browse the list and read the posts that will help your marriage improve. God bless you and have a blessed weekend!

Gary Thomas

  • He Ate My Chocolate – Gary shares an excerpt from a new book by Debra Fileta entitled Choosing Marriage: The hardest and greatest thing you’ll ever do. 

Heaven Made Marriage

Marriage Missions International

Uncovering Intimacy

 

Posted in Blog Love, Happy Hour | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Indescribable

Being a native Floridian, I have always loved watching storms roll in from a distance. Our skies are big making it easy to see when a storm is brewing.

Hurricanes are the most powerful storms I’ve witnessed, and Irma is the strongest to come across the Atlantic basin. To say I was nervous about what would happen to Florida is an understatement. I know the media can hype things up, but this was real. Irma had her gaze fixed on us and she was heading our way for what seemed like forever. I’m thankful we had lots of time to prepare.

Once Irma blew into town I found my favorite place to be was on our front porch watching her roar. We have a part of our porch that protects from the wind and provides a perfect place to watch the trees and rain blow without getting wet.

It was there that I encountered God. While the storm was raging around me, I sensed God’s power in a tangible way. He is all-powerful. He is in control. He still commands the wind and the waves. Yet, I was reminded that He takes thought of me, of you. Yes, He is fierce, yet approachable. All-consuming, yet comforting. He is my God and He is safe. I found myself quietly singing,

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God (song and lyrics by Chris Tomlin)

What storms are you facing in your marriage? Did it come on you suddenly, or have you seen it brewing from a distance? Did you make the necessary precautions, or have you found yourself in a flood of trouble with no power to bail yourself out?

There is good news. God is the God of the storm. He alone knows what you need to bring your marriage safely through it. Run to Him and allow Him to be your shelter and your guide. He will protect you and help you as no one else can.

When we walked out of our home on Monday morning to assess the damage done in our neighborhood, we offered a silent prayer of thanksgiving to God. Not only had the storm passed, but we were safe.

We pray this will be true of all marriages facing trouble today. Lean into the storm holding hands, and watch what God can do.

It’s Indescribable!

 

 

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

Five Things A Hurricane Is Teaching Me About Marriage

From The Weather Channel

If you didn’t know, we live in Orlando, FL. For days all eyes have been on the forecast track  of what has been declared the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane ever produced.

Meet Irma! 

She is strong. She is determined. She is moving forward without hesitation, and she doesn’t care what or who she destroys along the way. She is formidable in every sense of the word.

Weather mirrors our emotions. When we feel good we may say the sun is shining. When we feel sick we often say we’re under the weather. When angry, a storm is brewing and you had better take cover.

Following are five things Irma is teaching me about marriage:

  1. Take seriously when a storm is imminent. Ignoring the warnings doesn’t make the threat go away. It’s like hunkering down in a house built on sand.
  2. Store up good before the storm arrives. We may not be able to avoid storms in our marriage, but if we do our part to make sure our marriage is strong we will be more capable of enduring the worst of times together.
  3. Its best to not be alone during a storm. How true in marriage as well. We need each other the most when things are difficult. Sadly, many pull away from each other which only increases the possible damage suffered.
  4. Wait. Sometimes all you can do when facing a storm is to wait for it to pass. Once over, you can assess the damage incurred together.
  5. Realize you’re not the only one going through it. Be aware of those around you who may need a word of encouragement or a helping hand. We have found that not being so self-focused on our own situation, lifts our eyes from our trouble making it not seem as bad.

 

Wouldn’t it be great to hear said about you and your marriage as was said about Irma above…

Meet Mr. and Mrs. _________. They are strong. They are determined. They are moving forward without hesitation. And they don’t allow any obstacles to stop them. Their love is formidable!

Last week we began praying for Texas as they suffered horrific floods wrought by Harvey. This week it’s Florida.

Tom has been busy prepping the outside of our home. I have been busy prepping inside. This is all we can do at this point. We are concerned and prepared, but not afraid. We know that God is in control of all of creation, including powerful hurricanes! We covet your prayers and promise to keep you informed through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as we are able.

Grateful to God for His power on display through His creation and even more so for His sovereignty.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Conflict, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Happy False Labor Day NOT!

It was February of 1984. I was 24, Tom was 29. We were expecting our second baby any day.

I was 10 days past my due date, when the familiar labor pains began. I was ready to meet my baby. Tom drove me to my OB for a final exam, but I wasn’t expecting to hear the doctor’s conclusion; I was having “false labor.”

Warning: Don’t ever tell an overdue mama that her baby isn’t coming…

I did what any of you would have done–I cried, and then I ate! I had been fasting all day since that’s what you do when in labor. Tom bought me a huge sub sandwich and a large Diet Coke. I ate every bit with almost a “How dare you” attitude.

The pain did not subside as false labor is known to do. It kept intensifying, until I couldn’t stand it anymore. Tom drove me straight to the hospital this time since my pains were only minutes apart.

When we arrived a nurse examined me and said she thought she felt a bottom, not a head. She ordered an x-ray which confirmed what she suspected–my baby was breach and required an emergency C-section. After twelve hours of hard labor, I was finally going to meet my baby.

Since I wanted to be awake, a spinal tap was ordered. I wanted to find out if we had a boy or a girl. After all this waiting, I didn’t want to be unconscious for “the big reveal”.

The anesthetist attempted the first spinal but failed since I was having a sharp contraction. He tried again and yet another contraction halted his efforts. He kept telling me to relax, but what he should have known is that’s impossible when in labor. After 10 tries he finally succeeded. My body, from the rib cage down, not only went numb but I couldn’t move at all. I was paralyzed.

Within what seemed a few minutes I was my newborn baby in my arms, and I was elated she was a girl. Our firstborn son was 21 months, and a girl would be a new experience for us. We were excited!

I thought the difficulty would be over. Life was good. Pictures were taken and I was relieved it was over. But my darkest night was yet to come.

Because the anesthetist took so many tries for the spinal to take, the effects lasted for 12 hours. I was placed in a dark hospital room with two other women, one of whom didn’t speak English and was in severe pain. She screamed most of the night, and I couldn’t sleep because I was still paralyzed from the waist down. I don’t know how to describe it other than, tormenting.

By the time Tom arrived the next morning I was a mess. He went to the nurses station to request a private room for me. After much arguing he finally succeeded and I was moved. The numbness began to wear off, and I was elated. Finally, I could enjoy our newborn baby.

Yet another obstacle was about to hit.

I had never had a C-section and the pain was not only unfamiliar, but frightening. When I stood it felt as if my insides would come out. I asked the nurse if she could come get our baby, so I could rest.

Honey, you’re going to have to learn to rest at home with your baby, so you might as well start now!

Tom had left for work, and I was dumbfounded at what to say or do. So I cried.

Once Tom returned after work and I was able to talk to him about what happened, I felt better. Finally someone cared enough to offer me the help and compassion I needed.

The next day our pediatrician came in to examine our daughter before being discharged. I was thrilled to be going home, and I guess my joy showed. He commented that he was amazed I was able to be so joyful after all I had been through. He even used the cliche’, “You’ve made lemonade out of lemons.”

Imagine my surprise wen week later that same doctor had someone call us to invite us over to his house for dinner.

We were excited to have the opportunity to share with him and his wife the source of our joy. It was February and our daughter was only two weeks old, but we couldn’t miss this chance to share the hope we had been given in Christ. We loaded up and drove to their home.

Our hosts greeted us at the door, and invited us into their living room, where a group of other couples had already gathered. A white board was set in the middle of the room, which seemed odd to us. We waited.

And then we realized this was no informal dinner. It was an Amway presentation! We couldn’t believe what we were hearing/seeing! After all I had been through physically, this doctor used his patient list to solicit new recruits for his pyramid sales team.

We left his home that night, as well as his practice.

I wrote him a letter sharing how unethical we felt it was to solicit our business, especially when our daughter was so young.

There are always opportunists looking to benefit from the difficulty of others. Watching the news unfold in Houston reminds me to pray for those who may fall prey to similar schemes. I learned through this experience, not to be so quick to make assumptions about the motives of a stranger. What we thought was positive, ended up being quite the negative in our story.

How have you been taken advantage of by someone you though you could trust? What did you learn from it?

(Memes Credit: https://me.me/t/memes)

Posted in Christian Marriage, Diapers, Toddlers & Romance, Oh My, Difficulty, Keeping It Real, Parenting | Tagged , , ,

Pierced & Embraced – A Review

I was recently provided a copy of Kelli Worrall’s new book titled, Pierced & Embraced. It is an excellent book examining the encounters Christ had with seven women as recorded in the Gospels.

I was riveted from the outset.

You will see more clearly how Jesus cares for you as He interacted with the following women:

  • Mary, His Mother
  • Woman at the well
  • Woman with the hemorrhage
  • Woman caught in adultery
  • Mary and Martha
  • Woman with the alabaster jar
  • Mary Magdalene

Kelli shares candidly about her own struggles with the road before her, but she doesn’t leave us there. Through her story we learn how to relate to the way Jesus relates to all of us from time to time.

Maybe you are facing your own piercing season where there is no comfort to be found. Maybe it’s time to allow the Savior to embrace you in the pain and disappointment. Maybe you will find solace in how Christ comforted Mary and Martha in the loss of their brother. Maybe you will find healing in how Christ’s power touched the woman who had a hemorrhage for 12+ years. Or maybe you’ll relate to the woman caught in sin and how Christ didn’t condemn her but loved her then encouraged her to go and sin no more.

 

Whatever you are facing, this book will capture your heart, challenge your thinking and inspire you to draw nearer to Him. He was pierced for our transgressions, and His love is fierce.

If you order the book before 9/30/17, you can get a 40% discount. Just follow this link and use the code: EMBRACED40

Posted in Christian Marriage, The Gospel & Marriage, Wives | Tagged , | 4 Comments