Riding The Emotional Roller Coaster

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I hate roller coasters.

I really do. I didn’t always, in fact my first date was when I was 14 years old. A boy asked me to go to the fair, and I couldn’t wait to go on the fastest, wildest ride together. It was called the Zipper because it went up and down, spun around and in an oval all around. It was crazy, and I loved it, until…we got off. I noticed my date wasn’t feeling so good–he looked green–and then the worst thing happened for anyone on a date, much less a first date! He threw up. He was embarrassed. I was embarrassed. And the night was pretty much ruined at that point.

That wasn’t when I started hating roller coasters though.

I think the thrill left me when I started having children. But I’ve often found myself on another roller coaster of sorts–one caused by my emotions, and I hate this one too. Some days I don’t have a choice of resisting it. It’s as if the beast scoops me up and insists I go on a nightmare of a ride. I can even feel nauseous when it’s all over.

What I’ve found helps the most is to take Tom’s hand, look him in the eye and explain what I’m feeling. It may not make sense. I may end up slobbering all over him as I try to tell him what’s going on in my little brain, and he may not understand a word I say. But somehow knowing that he cares enough for me to try to understand makes all the difference. I think just focusing long enough to try and put my emotions in words helps with the disorientation caused by my spinning emotions.

The perplexing thing about all this is what works one time may not work the next.

This fact alone can cause Tom much frustration, especially since he can’t relate to the why of it all.  If he didn’t love me, he might be tempted to give up on me altogether, like a first and last date at the fair. But he does love me. He’s proven it over and over. Sometimes the best thing he can do is hold me tight until the roller coaster ends.

How has the emotional roller coaster affected your marriage? Have you learned to help each other until the ride passes? Or do you tend to add another carnival ride to the experience like The House of Horrors? Please, for the sake of your marriage, don’t disengage when your spouse is facing something you can’t understand. Take your perplexities to God and ask Him to help you understand the unexplainable. You may be surprised that He answers you in specific ways that impact your marriage in a lasting way.

 

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

Vintage Post – A Daisy A Day

A Daisy A Day

We talk a lot about the importance of doing little kindnesses for our spouse on a regular basis. We are encouraged to do this in the hopes it will become a life-long habit.

I happened to remember one line of a song recently that was popular in the 70’s. I thought it was about endearing love, but I couldn’t remember for sure because I didn’t have all the lyrics. So, I did a quick You Tube search and was delighted to find a video I could share with you. This song celebrates life-long love. This man shares a special tradition with his wife each day.  May we all grow old loving our spouse in this way.

Tissue Alert!

Posted in Aging, Christian Marriage, Love Songs, Love Stories, Music, Seasons of Life, Testimonies | Leave a comment

8 Ways To Keep From Draining The Life Out Of Your Marriage

In our last post I compared marriage to a fountain. I ended the post with this meme…

Be-a-fountain-not-a-drain.

…and it got me thinking of the ways we drain our marriages of the good God intended. I found this article on The Huffington Post, by writer Tamara Star. She provides 8 ways we drain the life out of relationships. I’d like to take her 8 ways and consider the reverse…

8 Ways To KEEP FROM Draining The Life Out Of Our Marriage.

  1. Deal With Past Hurts. Pretending you’re okay about a conflict just to keep the peace, is what Ken Sande calls a “Peace Faker”. You may keep the conflict quiet, but it certainly won’t go away. At some point the geyser will blow and your fountain will be high and dry.
  2. Believe The Best Of Your Spouse. When they tell you something, believe them. Don’t second guess. If you don’t trust your spouse to tell you the truth, you have deeper issues that need attention. We should, we must think the best or the waters of our fountain will become polluted with suspicion and complaint.
  3. Trust Your Spouse To Love You Completely. If we hold back emotionally we are robbing our spouse of what we promised to give them on our wedding day. We must stay true to our vows, for it is our vows that holds the marriage together when the feelings wane. When our spouse expresses their affection embrace it, don’t question it. This keeps the water in your fountain flowing both ways.
  4. Intentionally Pursue Your Spouse. When you were dating no one had to tell you to pursue them, they were all you could think about! When we get married the need to do this increases, because if we don’t we will begin to drift apart. It’s like taking one side of the fountain away and hoping all the water will stay in place.
  5. Give Your Spouse Your Complete Attention. This one isn’t so hard before you have children, at least not as noticeable. The husband especially can feel pushed aside when the mothering instincts kick in. But if you purpose to look each other in the eyes when talking it will go a long way in preventing you from communicating on auto-pilot. And please, put those devices aside when your spouse is talking.
  6. Study Your Spouse. As the years pass you will both change. It is necessary for you to continue to learn about who your spouse is becoming. If you don’t take care of this on a regular basis, you’ll wake up one day and say, “Who are you?” We’ve seen this happen far too many times. Know what is on your spouse’s mind and heart. Know what is worrying them. Know what they are dreaming about. This will keep the waters of your fountain clear and refreshing, not old and stagnant.
  7. Stay Current With Your Spouse. Don’t assume on yesterday’s understandings. Take the time to talk about what’s important, including dreaming about the future together. This is the natural give and take found in a functioning fountain.
  8. Touch Each Other Often. This may be a given in your relationship, but many couples stop showing affection as the years pass. Kiss often. Kiss long. Hold hands when walking. Put your arm around your wife as you walk the mall. Be physical. Intimacy isn’t just for the bedroom, it starts with a goodbye kiss in the morning, and a welcome embrace when you are together again at the end of the day.

How have you kept your fountain operating in the way it was created to function? Are there any of these that you have neglected in your own relationship? What can you do today to implement the needed changes?

The only way to stop a leak in a fountain is to fix it.

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Be A Fountain Not A Drain

Fountain

God made natural springs and waterfalls. Man has taken this concept from nature and made them into something beautiful we call…

Fountains.

They are refreshing, and the place where many drop a coin to make a wish. They are found in elite spas, well-kept parks, hotel lobbies and backyard pools. They draw us to them from a distance because of their soothing nature. I love to hear the sound of running water, (except when I have to go the bathroom–but that’s not for this post. lol).

Marriage has been compared to a fountain in Scripture. Listen to King Solomon’s counsel to his young son as recorded in Proverbs 15:

15Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
16Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
17Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
18Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19  a lovely deer, a graceful doe.

As I consider the fountain right outside my window, I’m compelled to consider how like marriage a fountain is.

  • What strikes me first is it’s constancy. There isn’t a pause between the water being drawn in and the water being poured out. It flows without hesitation. In fact, unless you understand how a fountain operates you wouldn’t even know there is any drawing in of the water, for it seems to pour out continually.

A healthy marriage acts in much the same way. As Husbands and wives, if we are acting as we should, we continually pour out our lives for the good of our spouse, our marriage. There is no holding on to my way, standing my ground, demanding my rights, not in a healthy marriage anyway. We give of ourselves 100%, and as we do our marriage becomes an inviting and refreshing place, not only for our spouse but also for our children and all who know us.

  • Another thing I notice about the fountain is it’s boundaries. The water knows its limits and it stays within them. 

A healthy marriage also stays within the boundaries set in the wedding vows. Where we promised to love each other for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad–until death parts us. We vowed to be faithful to each other and to keep our bodies for our spouse alone. We don’t flirt or pursue the attention of others for our selfish pleasure. Our thoughts are of our spouse continually in this regard. Others may draw near to our fountain, to make a wish for their own happiness, but never to join in.

  • Fountains are also unique. I have never seen two fountains exactly alike. This is what draws us to marvel at their beauty. I’ve seen fountains with birds, frogs, harps, cherubs, all kinds. And each one caused me to notice it for it’s own unique beauty.

Marriage does this as well. We began blogging on The Romantic Vineyard in 2008. Back then there weren’t many Christian marriage bloggers. Now the internet is full of them and so many of them are good. Our Christian Marriage Bloggers Association provides an extensive list of other blogs hosted by marriages with something worth sharing for the good of your marriage. It’s like a directory of beautiful fountains to admire and enjoy.

So the next time you’re taking a leisurely walk through a park or garden and happen upon a fountain, pause and thank God for how He has allowed your marriage to function in much the same way. 

There is no marriage like yours. There is no other fountain better than the one you’ve been given. Enjoy it. Cherish it. And most of all thank God for it. Marriage was His idea in the first place, like the natural spring or the never ending waterfall, may your marriage flow continually for your good and His glory.

Be-a-fountain-not-a-drain.

 

 

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

Secret Garden Of Pride

The last two posts have dealt with besetting sins and our need to disclose them to our spouse for help and hope in overcoming them.

I shared a while ago about God revealing to both Tom and me the importance of confessing our sins to each other. It was heart wrenching to share these besetting sins with my husband because I thought he would think less of me. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Being completely transparent with him actually brought about a deeper intimacy, one based on who we are in Christ, not on who we artificially manufacture for appearances sake.

Pride had a grip on my heart, and for years I never even noticed.

The Lord often uses pictures to communicate with me, much like the parables Jesus used to make a point. This time the picture He shared was so detailed I’ve never forgotten it. I call it my Secret Garden of Pride.

I saw a garden surrounded by a stone wall. It was overgrown and obviously neglected. As I walked through the tangled landscape I noticed a wild vine that had covered everything, from the planters to the flower beds. Nothing was free from it’s grip. I started to clear away the vine so I could see what was underneath. The more I pulled, the more there seemed to be. It didn’t take long for me to become discouraged at such a task. It was too much for me.

It was in that moment that I noticed it–a tiny green plant buried beneath the vines I had just removed. I gained a new resolve to clear away the tangles so that this little plant would have a chance to grow. No matter how motivated I was, the vines were too much for me to remove.

I stood up to relieve my back from the strain, when I noticed the wall surrounding the garden wasn’t very tall at all. What had seemed large and looming was in reality only a small barrier. I saw close friends I knew and loved milling about outside the gate. I invited them in to help me clear away the debris. In no time, the garden was transformed. What had seemed an impossible task to me, took no effort at all with the help of others.

The Lord impressed on my heart that this secret garden represented the thoughts in my heart, prideful thoughts I never shared with anyone. Although I never spoke them out loud, most who knew me recognized the thriving vine of pride all over me. It touched everything I said, thought and did.

“…for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45b

The Lord had me write down all the evidences of pride He was revealing to me–specific thoughts and actions where pride was my motivator. It was like ripping the roots out of the hardened ground in my secret garden. My hands hurt, but my heart ached even more for how my sin had affected those I love, and what it cost my Savior to set me free from its grip. With each pull of the vine, I was noticing a fresh sense of mercy and grace. It was refreshing and unexplainably invigorating. I loved my new found freedom and my garden had never looked healthier.

I could have never accomplished the clearing of this garden without the help of those who love me most and know me best. It took me humbling myself and sharing with my husband who I really was to release my heart from the grip this sin had on me. And once I did, the vine lost its strength.

While I will never be completely rid of this vine of pride, I now know how to keep it from taking over every part of my garden. I must be diligent, on guard and ready to confess when it starts to take root.

Are there any areas in your heart that your spouse is unaware of? Things you think often, but would never share? May I encourage you to take it to the Lord. Ask Him if this is an area in need of transparency? Let Him cultivate the garden of your heart, by inviting others in to help starting with your spouse. Your garden was never meant to be walled in, it was meant to be a place where others are always welcome in, to share with you what they are seeing and how God is transforming your secret garden into a place where His handiwork is on display.

Posted in Besetting Sins, Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Encouraging Your Spouse, Repentance, Temptation | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

8 Principals To Follow In Dealing With Habitual Sins

Meme Credit: sallytudor.wordpress.com

Meme Credit: sallytudor.wordpress.com

I recently read an excellent article, Dealing With Habitual Sins, by John McArthur. He expounds on eight principals needed to lay aside the sin that so easily entangles us.

  1. Treat your sin seriously. It dishonors God. It abuses mercy. It despises grace. It presumes on forgiveness. It defiles worship, service and fellowship. It stains and taints and poisons and destroys everything good and holy.
  2. Take a solemn vow and say, “God, I do not want to sin. I don’t want to break Your law. I don’t want to grieve Your Spirit. I don’t want to dishonor the name of Your Son which I bear.”
  3. Be suspicious of your own spirituality. Paul said it this way, “Let the one who stands take heed lest he fall.” Job 31:1, Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes, how then can I gaze on a virgin?” He said I’ve got to be careful where I look because I don’t trust myself. I’ve got to start with what I see because I don’t trust myself.
  4. Resist the first risings of the flesh and its pleasures. Don’t try to stop the process near the end, stop it near the beginning. James notes for us a certain process, “People are tempted when they’re carried away and enticed by their own lust, then when lust has conceived it gives birth to sin.” Well you want to stop it at the point of conception not try to stop it at the point of birth. You want to stop sin at conception after its been conceived and run through a certain period of pregnancy, if you will, and now is about to give birth to the sin. You don’t try to stop it at that point, you resist and oppose the first risings of the flesh and its pleasures. Sin comes to you promising pleasure. And you remember at the very outset, my goal is not to please myself but to please the Lord.
  5. Meditate on the Word. There’s a wonderful verse, verse 31 of Psalm 37, you probably should write this down…Psalm 37:31, it’s a bit more obscure than some but it really is very very important, listen to what it says. “The law of his God is in his heart. His steps do not slip.”
  6. Be immediately repentant over your lapses. It says in Matthew 26:75 that Peter having obviously been aware of his sin at the crowing of the cock went out and wept bitterly. Something very admirable in that. We castigate, and rightly so, Peter for his defection but we must also honor and respect him for his immediate remorse. Be immediately repentant over your lapses and go back to the place of confession. And repentance isn’t only saying, “I’m sorry, Lord, forgive me,” it is saying, “I’m sorry, Lord, forgive me and I don’t want to ever do that again.” That’s the stuff of real repentance. When you confess your sins and when you say “I’m sorry I did that, please forgive me, I don’t ever want to do it again,” name it…name it specifically. Let your own heart and even your own ears hear the naming of that sin so that you develop in your heart a high degree of accountability with God for having named the very sin for which He is holding you accountable not to commit again. That’s how you develop accountability. That’s how you develop the fear of God. If you hold back from naming your sin it’s because you want to do that again and it’s bad enough to sin without having to be responsible for telling God you didn’t want to do it and defying what you told Him so you’d rather sin only once rather than twice, that’s why you don’t want to name your sin. Then you’re guilty not only of sinning again but of being hypocritical before God. True repentance will name the sin, specifically name the sin.
  7. Continually pray for divine help. Ephesians 6:18, after all the armor is put on and the battle against Satan and demons, after all of the warfare has been said and the battle is engaged against Satan and all of his forces he says, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication.” Jesus said to His disciples, “Watch and pray for you know not when you’re going to enter into the hour of temptation.” Devote yourselves to prayer, Colossians 4:2, being alert in it. Don’t fight the enemy on your own. When you engage the enemy, pray…plead with help. But even in a preliminary sense, I really think anticipatory prayer is the most effective. You need to start your day, “Lord, this is the way you taught us to pray, lead us not into…what?…temptation…and deliver us from evil, Lord, please today lead me away from temptation, please today, Lord, deliver me from evil.” You need to set the course of your prayers before the tempter arrives, before the flesh begins to rise and entice.
  8. Establish relationships with other believers that hold you accountable. “Bear ye one another’s burdens,” says Paul in Galatians 6, “and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We are all in the same boat, folks, we all struggle the same way and we need each other.

In closing, Mr. MacArthur summarizes these 8 principals to help us get it:

First of all, realize sin is powerful, it is near, even in you, and it is intertwined with everything in your being. And in order to deal with it you must understand its seriousness. You must promise God not to sin. You must watch carefully for your own spiritual weaknesses. Don’t trust your spirituality. You must resist the first risings of sin in the flesh. You must meditate on the Word. You must be repentant immediately for the lapses that come. You much continue in prayer and dependence on God’s power and establish intimate relationships of spiritual accountability.

This article stirred an excellent conversation between Tom and me.

We have been married for 37.5 years and our besetting sins have changed as we’ve matured in Christ. But until we take our last breath in this life, we will have to deal with this important aspect of growing together in love. If we are serious about our relationship to God and how it impacts our marriage, we cannot neglect this practice. No one can confess my sin and temptations but me. It is a responsibility I must own!

The hard part is this–in the busyness of life we forget to be intentional and go after the sin that so easily entangles us. In my next post I’ll share how God revealed to me the danger of neglecting this discipline.

Please don’t leave without taking a moment to worship the Savior with this song by Meredith Andrews. When we take a look at our sin, we must follow it by taking a long look at the Cross for what Christ has done. This is the power of the Gospel at work in you and and in me. 

Posted in Besetting Sins, Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Repentance, Temptation | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

How You Deal With This Will Either Make Or Break Your Marriage

Photo Credit: versepixels.com

Photo Credit: versepixels.com

Besetting sin or habitual sin.

As Christians we deal with them every day of our lives. It is the one sin that easily entangles us without much effort. It is like an anchor on our soul adding weight to pull us down where we are and keeping us from moving forward in our love and pursuit of God.

But the biggest pull of our besetting sin isn’t the weight it puts on us, but our acceptance of it as “who we are!”

We identify with it instead of resisting it. We call it “a weakness” rather than naming it “as sin”. Jesus didn’t die for our “weaknesses” He died for our sin. As a result we can have victory over them.

Think about it. If someone were to ask you what your besetting sin is, most likely you wouldn’t know what to say at first. Unless, of course, you’ve considered this topic before.

We tend to protect our besetting sin because in a strange sort of way it’s provided us with a  false sense of comfort…

  • The glutton loves food and the temporary comfort it provides.
  • The angry person finds a rush of adrenaline in the unleashing of the fireball within.
  • The gossip feels better about themselves by hearing and sharing the dirty laundry of others.
  • The lustful finds great pleasure in arousal that is forbidden.
  • The prideful enjoy making much of themselves at all costs, even putting others down like the Pharisees.
  • The lazy or slothful enjoy relaxing and pleasure so much that they are willing to neglect those things that should be most precious to them.

Saying NO to these besetting sins is no easy task. In fact, it can’t be done in our own strength. We won’t even desire saying no to it unless one thing is present–the grace of God.

For it’s the grace of God that “teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” – Titus 2:12 NIV

What does this have to do with marriage?

The marriage relationship provides an accountability that no other relationship has. Your spouse knows you better than any one else because they see you at your worst. Besetting sin that isn’t dealt with is a large part of many marital break-ups. If you want your marriage to grow and mature, be willing to honestly confront and confess the sin that so easily entangles you. When we do, the temptation to sin may not go away, but the burden of it will no longer weigh you down.

In our next post I’m going to share with you Eight Principals I’ve read by a respected author that will help you learn how to do this more effectively each and every day. Stay tuned…

 

Posted in Besetting Sins, Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Temptation | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Vintage Post – Making Mountain Vacations Memorably Romantic

Vintage Post

originally posted July 13, 2011

 

Romance In The Mountains

What if you’re planning a vacation in the mountains?  What sort of things would make the vacation especially romantic?  Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Go to the Visitor’s Center and request a map of hiking trails.  Be sure to pack lots of water and let someone know the trail you intend to hike.  Many cell phones don’t work, and if you get lost you’ll want someone to know to come looking for you.  (the voice of experience – don’t ask why!):-)
  • Build an outdoor fire and roast marshmallows while talking about favorite childhood memories.  Or talk about your hopes and dreams for the future.
  • Go to the highest point late at night to watch the stars.  We did this once on the Continental Divide in Colorado, and we’ll never forget the expansive view of Heaven.  Take a blanket because it’s cold even in the summer months.
  • If this is a road trip, play the alphabet game.  Simply start with the letter “A” and use this as a springboard for your romantic memories.  For example, “A” could be a trip to Alaska you took together or a special evening you shared enjoying Apple Pie on a cold night.  Work your way through the entire alphabet.  You could change it up a bit and make the letters places you hope to go to together someday.
  • Go Fly Fishing.
  • Go boating.  Many mountain lake marinas rent boats for 1/2 or full days.
  • Pack a picnic and find a secluded spot in the woods or on a rock in the middle of a stream.  We did this once and it was spectacular watching the water flow all around us with the mountain views above.  Very romantic!
  • Go White Water Rafting.
  • Go tubing down a lazy river.
  • Go horseback riding together.
  • Take a local cooking class.
  • Go to an outdoor concert.
  • Do nothing together. :-)
  • Watch the firefly’s come out in the cool of the evening.
  • Go mountain biking.  Many ski slopes are opened for the summer as biking trails.  The lifts take you and your bike up the mountain and then, you ride it down – on easy trails that wind their way down at a mild slope. Or if you’re daring, there are black diamond courses too.  The best part is you can stop along the way to enjoy a break together while taking in the amazing views.
  • Pick wildflowers or wild berries together.  Don’t forget the bug repellent.
  • Go off roading.  We rented a 4 x 4 truck one year and took it off road.  We found some amazingly beautiful and secluded spots we would have missed otherwise very romantic!

Do you have a romantic idea for a mountain vacation?  Be sure to share them with us.  We want The Romantic Vineyard to be a great resource for couples looking to make their vacations something special.

If you’re going to the mountains of Virginia, Western North Carolina or Tennessee check out this publication, Fun Things To Do In The Mountains, covering 35 counties.  It is published monthly and provides details on everything going on in that region.  The link is the July 2011 issue.  Enjoy!

Posted in Christian Marriage | 2 Comments

Vintage Post – Tell Me The Good

We recently had lunch with some friends who shared with us a tradition the wife had grown up doing at the dinner table. It was really quite simple. Her dad would say, Tell me the good, and everyone at the table had to take turns telling him the good they saw in the others seated at the table. This wise father usually asked this question when he noticed the sour attitudes of his children, and it immediately changed the atmosphere from critical to grateful.

We thought this would be a good idea to try with your spouse. What if the next time you were feeling the weight of your circumstances you were to say, Tell me the good! Then take turns recounting the good things God has done or is doing in your life and marriage. How would this change your perspective? We think it’s worth a try.

Let us know how it goes.

Posted in Christian Marriage | 2 Comments

Vintage Post – 5 Disciplines For A Successful Vacation

 

old-couple-walking-on-beach-300x211

Originally posted on 6.12.2012

Discipline and vacation may not be words you would normally think go together. However, if you’re going to include “success” in this equation–it is a must.

Vacations are the ideal time for a family and/or couple to pull away for quality time together. The plans are made, the lodging booked and the time requested off from work is approved. You’re all set, right? Wrong. If this is all you do to prepare for a great vacation you will most likely end up quoting:

“No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one.  ~Elbert Hubbard

How can one make the most of time away, without wasting it, or ruining it altogether?

Here are our 5 Disciplines of a Successful Vacation:

Discipline #1 – Talk about your expectations for your time away before you go away.

  • Are you planning to read an entire novel, alone on the beach? Are you looking forward to playing games together each night? Maybe you can’t wait to take in all the local art museums and attractions. As you can see, being on the same page as to what you would like to do makes a huge difference for each one in making the vacation successful. This vacation for us was one where we both wanted the same thing–to do nothing together. Of course, these are the best kinds of vacations because no matter what you do you’re happy because you had no plans, no agenda you wanted to meet. When we took our kids on vacation we would give them a choice of one thing they wanted to do and try to make it happen. It didn’t always work, but at least they knew we were making an attempt to bless them.

Discipline #2 – Know your financial limits.

  • Going on vacation with a credit card in hand may sound fun for the moment, but returning to a pile of bills can take a serious toll on the memories you may have created. It’s important to take control of your wallet, so your wallet doesn’t hit you back when you get home. With a little research and discipline, make plans ahead of time for the things you know you can afford, so you’re not tempted to go overboard with your holiday spending. Be sure the entire family is aware of the set limits as well. You may want to rally everyone together ahead of time for a garage sale to make some extra spending money for the kids.

Discipline #3 – Look out for the interests of others.

  • Purpose to help your spouse and/or children have the vacation of their dreams. Make a list of their favorite things, like food, movies, games, hobbies, etc. and make time for them to do them. I remember one vacation when Tom made sure I enjoyed all my favorite things for an entire week. The best part? He didn’t tell me he was doing it–he let me figure it out all by myself, and he found great pleasure in watching me discover it, one delicious crab leg at a time.:-)

Discipline #4 – Don’t be anxious, but instead pray.

  • All vacations have unexpected mishaps. If you know these things are going to happen, you can discipline yourself for a godly response. Case in point, this past week we arrived at our rental only to find it dirty, and not the picture of the beach condo we had seen in the pictures. It wasn’t acceptable to us. What did we do? We prayed first, then called and left a message for the owner of the condo. Lastly, we went about looking for some place else to stay nearby. It took two hours out of our day at a McDonald’s (they have free WiFi) in a not very nice part of town. But by God’s grace we didn’t react. We trusted God, followed His lead and ended up with a sincere apology from the owner, a complete refund, and a beautiful time-share condo directly facing the ocean for the same price.

Discipline #5 – Connect and Disconnect

  • In this day of social media and computer games it can seem impossible to disconnect from your growing network of family and friends. But this discipline is probably the most important one for a truly relaxing time away. Think about it…we push buttons and look at computer screens all day, every day. How sad to go away to a beautiful location only to keep your nose into a smart phone or laptop computer. It takes great discipline to push the “off” button, but for every yes we say to technology, we’re saying no to something or someone else. Discipline yourself to be there even if you aren’t doing anything in particular. One of my favorite snapshots from our vacation last year was when I was fixing dinner while Tom sat on the front deck of our cabin in NC. He was doing nothing, but admiring the view, completely lost in the moment of peace and quiet. I will never forget it, and I work hard to help him find that place whenever we’re away.

What disciplines have you found necessary for a successful vacation?

Posted in Christian Marriage | 1 Comment

Vintage Post – Unpacking For Vacation

Originally posted on June 1, 2012

Originally posted on June 1, 2012

Tonight at 5p. our week-long vacation will officially begin. We are turning our attention and time off of technology and turning all our focus on us. To say we are excited is a huge understatement. We’re almost giddy.:-) Okay, I’m giddy…Tom has a huge smile on his face–that’s about as giddy as he gets.

Now for our Unpacking List. These are things we will not be taking with us on vacation:

  1. Phone calls, except for emergencies.
  2. E-mails and/or Facebook (unless it’s to post some pictures)
  3. Worries
  4. To-Do lists
  5. Mind clutter
  6. Deadlines
  7. Work or blog concerns
  8. Housework

Suffice it to say we’ve done what we can to unpack, so we have room to pack in as much rest and relaxation time as we can in one week.

Posted in Growing Strong Marriages, Travel, Vacations, Vintage Posts | 2 Comments

Are You Making This Mistake In Your Marriage?

 

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You had a long talk about a goal you both want to accomplish. Plans are set in place to see the goal reached. As the first few steps are taken you realize the goal you had didn’t quite match the goal your spouse had and conflict inevitably ensues.

Tension. How do you navigate a conversation when the tension is mounting?

Case in point–keeping it real…

Tom and I need to have some things done around our house. We need to paint the exterior of our home, and we need a new fence. All of this costs money–a lot of money, so I understand the waiting part of making a decision. We began the process of getting estimates for our fence replacement which led me to believe we would soon make a decision and get this goal accomplished–checked off the list!

This morning we got our last quote. As we talked about the three estimates I discovered Tom’s goal didn’t quite match mine. I am ready to call the fence company with the best quote and get it done. Tom, on the other hand, thinks maybe we should get the house painted first. Which led me to wonder why we didn’t get painting estimates done first.

I must admit my response wasn’t, “Oh, okay. That sounds like a great plan.” No, my first response was more like–well, I’d rather not say–but the good news is that God helped me not stay there.

I’ve learned so many times that when Tom pauses in making a decision, there’s usually a good reason and waiting will prove it. 

Scenarios like these happen far too often in most marriages. We come to think there is no hope for change, so we settle into complacency and acceptance of a behavior that robs us of the joy God intended us to have in marriage. We argue over miscommunicated or non-communicated expectations.

Is there a practical, easy step we can take to help us redirect our thoughts to help us grow and change?

I believe there is a very simple answer to this question, but it isn’t an easy one, it is often the hardest choice for us to make. It’s deferring to your spouse’s desires over your own.

“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.” – Philippians 2:3-4 ESV

If we were to begin each day with the humble attitude of preferring our spouse over our own desires, we would soon discover that there is a way to live above the norm. And best of all, God has promised to give us a Helper to be with us in those tense moments to counsel and guide our thoughts as well as our words.

Take Action

  • Take this Scripture and paste it all over your house.
  • Let it be the next verse you commit to memory.
  • Cling to it when you’re tempted to react.
  • Trust it to help you mature and become less self-focused.
  • And most importantly, watch what God does in your marriage and in your spouse as you begin preferring them above yourself.

You might be surprised to see a lot more goals being reached because you’re no longer digging your heels in, fighting for what you want.

Agreement is the road to accomplishment, disagreement is a road block. Choose to agree for the change you want to see!

 

 

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , ,

Happy Hour

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I must apologize for my absence the past couple of weeks. Living in Orlando, we’ve experienced three tragic circumstances that have left us feeling numb. Add to this some of our dearest friend’s daughter got engaged here last weekend and we were privileged to host the celebrations. It has been an emotional roller coaster, quite literally. God has helped us and He is preparing us for our upcoming vacation, where we can’t wait to rest and relax together–alone.

No worries though, we’re planning to pull from some of the best of our Vintage Posts for your encouragement while we’re away. Keep those home fires burning–no matter how hot your Summer is. Our thermometer says “99” right now. Ugh! Thanking God for the blessing of central air in our home.

Enjoy these special posts when you have some time to read them in their entirety.

Hot, Holy and Humorous

  • Do Women Like Sex?<<What do you think? J does an excellent job nailing the answer, and she provides Scripture to back her view.

Marriage365

Orlando Date Night Guide

Paul Tripp Ministries

  • 10 Years, 10 Blessings<<Paul Tripp has been one of the most influential ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our life and marriage. We have had the privilege to thank him in person for his transparency, honesty and love of our Savior. Read this post to get a glimpse into the life and heart of this man. Then go buy his books!
Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Happy Hour

“It’s Not What I Thought It Would Be!”

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All marriages at some point come to this conclusion. You never expected it to look like this, and how did you get here in the first place? It’s certainly not what you thought it would be.

Where’s the romance?

Where’s the kindness?

Where’s the thoughtfulness?

Where’s the closeness?

Where’s the companionship?

Many couples find these questions disturbing at the least and some even would say devastating. If you think you’re the only one who has ever had this thought, you can reach a wrong conclusion that something is terribly wrong with your marriage. While these feelings point to a place that needs attention–and right away–it doesn’t mean your marriage is on the road to failure unless you do like many couples do and ignore it.

Think of these questions as a traffic signal.

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You expected all green lights on the road to marital bliss. You determined from the beginning that your marriage wouldn’t be like other’s who you’ve seen struggle and eventually fail. Your love was too strong. This what all you thought needed to succeed–a willingness to move forward.

Then the light changes to yellow.

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We all know this means caution, but when it comes to marriage many ignore the caution light. Instead of slowing down with care, you push the pedal to the medal and speed through, thinking that slowing down would cause you to lose your momentum. The only problem with this thinking is that you are speeding full speed ahead to a collision.

A caution light in marriage may look like this:

  • You’re not connecting like you used to.
  • Your communication is limited and not happening on a daily basis.
  • You are distracted by work demands and parenting demands.
  • You have been sick for an extended period of time allowing a relational distance to set in.
  • You have sex rarely and when you do, its a quickie.
  • You can’t remember the last time you had time together just the two of you.

If any of these describe your current status, you are in a season of caution. You have two choices–to ignore the light and continue the way you’re going. Or you can stop.

You may ask, “Ok, but if I stop then what? I don’t like what I’m seeing and I don’t know how to change it. Isn’t it better to keep moving? At least we’re going somewhere, right?”

Wrong! Sure you’re heading somewhere, but it isn’t good. Far too many couples get way down the road only to discover they’re not on the same road anymore. The caution light was actually a fork in the road and if you don’t stop to communicate about where you want your marriage to be in five years, you are likely to cause even more distance between where you are and where you had hoped to be.

red light

Use the red light to your advantage.

  • Plan some time to talk without distractions.
  • Be willing to listen more than you talk.
  • Ask good questions and don’t assume that what your spouse shares with you at first is what is really bothering them.
  • If you can’t reach a place of understanding, ask for help. There is nothing wrong with stopping to ask for directions. It’s true that many don’t like doing this, and it reveals another problem that should be addressed–pride. Being confident, no matter how sincere, only helps if you’re going in the right direction. Confidence in confidence alone is foolish. Be wise and pursue the help of others.
  • Plan to return to some of the things you did when you first fell in love: small acts of kindness, regular dates, sending unexpected notes of appreciation, noticing the little things your spouse does for you and your family. Be grateful and show it!

Doing these things will do more than you realize to help your marriage continue to grow and mature. We’ve heard it said, and we couldn’t agree more…

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So don’t look at a yellow light or red light as a failure in your marriage. It’s a healthy place to stop and reevaluate your marriage journey.

 

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

The Grieving Continues…

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Heavenly Father,

Our hearts are broken. We ask that you comfort the families of those facing the worst of news this week–the loss of a loved one forever. We ask that you help our local law enforcement officers as well as the medical staff at area hospitals to do their job to the best of their ability. Help them endure the investigation with their full capacity. Thank you for the way they have devoted their lives to be prepared in situations like these.

We pray for Christina Grimmies’ family who today, is having to let go of their hopes and dreams for their 22-year-old daughter. We pray for her brother who did all he could possibly do to protect his sister, yet to no avail. Thank you for using him and his bravery to save the lives of countless other victims who witnessed this horrific crime. We pray for help and for peace.

We also pray for the families of the 49 victims gunned down in the Pulse nightclub massacre. The names and faces will forever be etched in our hearts and minds. Such young potential for life lost forever. We ask that You help those who are still living to deal with the reality that they survived but their friends didn’t. Protect them from unnecessary guilt in that regard. We also pray for the medical teams who are still on duty trying to help the critically injured survive. Bring healing to their wounds, we ask.

We pray as well today for the Nebraska family of the little 2-year old boy who was snatched by a 7-8 ft. alligator at Walt Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort last night. Help our over-extended law enforcement agencies give them their full attention. Help them find this gator so it can be killed and prevented from stalking other humans. Such a horrible experience for this young family who was on vacation in our city.

God help us, comfort us, heal us, and draw our hearts to You, our only hope in such difficult times. 

In Jesus’ Precious Name,

Amen.

Posted in Death and Grieving, Difficulty, Prayer, Seasons of Life | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The City Beautiful Turned Mournful 


We awoke this morning to devastating news in our city–The city where I was born and raised; The city where Tom and I were married; The city where our three children were born and raised as well.

Our city has faced a dark night–two in fact this weekend, and our hearts are broken. 

Facebook and the Internet are swarming with speculations as to what happened and why. Many are quick to point a finger of judgment. Really? At a time of such horrific events, let’s stay focused on what matters. People who were living and breathing on Friday afternoon are no longer here. Their lives were taken from them at the hateful hand of another. This has been marked the worst mass shooting in American history, and it happened in the city where dreams are supposed to come true!


Our hearts and prayers go out to all who are mourning this loss on a personal level. May God comfort you as you walk this road. 

This is not a time to cast judgment. Nor is it a time to make jokes. We are in mourning as a city, as a nation. If it had happened to one of your loved ones how would you want to be treated? Let’s respect these victims with the same love and concern. 

May the unchanging God bless us and keep us walking close to Him as we face these uncertain days.

Posted in Christian Marriage | 1 Comment

Happy Hour

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Hard to believe it’s Friday already. There are some really special posts this week you won’t want to miss. Set aside some time with your favorite drink and enjoy!

Hot, Holy and Humorous

  • Why Sex Should Be Hot, Holy and Humorous<<J revisits why this is the theme of her blog because her new book has just hit the market! Congratulations, J. I pray your book will find its place in the hearts of many marriages changed for God’s glory. You are a gift to us!

The Generous Wife – Special Happy Birthday to you, Lori!:-)

  • His Voice Counts<<Lori reminds us the importance of believing our husband when he compliments us. It matters more than we know!

To Love, Honor And Vacuum

The XY Code

  • What Buttons Would You Each Like?<<This is such a simple exercise, but may just be the catalyst you need to truly understand each other. Give it a shot–you’ve got nothing to lose.
Posted in Blog Love, Happy Hour | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Vintage Post – Wisdom Is Speaking

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Originally posted 3.5.2010

Wisdom from 170 years ago still speaks as clearly today. If you have found a husband/wife with whom to share life’s journey, you have within reach the ability to be the happiest of all earthly creatures. Marriage is a gift! Celebrate the good God has given you in your spouse! Enjoy this quote:

The purest happiness of an earthly nature, is that which springs up in a comfortable home, where there is a loving union of hearts between man and wife.

The tender sympathies,
the delicate affections,
the minute attentions,
the watchful solicitudes,
the ceaseless kindnesses of marital love,
–are the sweetest ingredients in the cup of life, and contribute a thousand times more to earthly enjoyment, than all the possessions of wealth, and all the blandishments of rank, station, and fashion.”

by John Angell James, 1841

Think of it – when we treat our spouse with such care we are cultivating an environment where happiness thrives.  This weekend, let’s look for ways to offer:

  • tender sympathies – listening with ears and eyes to what concerns them
  • delicate affections – offering unexpected hugs, kisses and caresses
  • minute attentions – bring them their favorite drink, slippers or reading material
  • watchful solicitudes – sharing your care and concern for their growth in godliness – areas they may not see
  • ceaseless kindnesses of marital love – pursue them, be the initiator and throw of all inhibitions when it comes to loving your spouse

If you’re reading this – God has determined for you to be the one who starts!  We can play the game “They should go first – I want them to do this for me! I deserve it.”  The Bible instructs us with how to handle thoughts like these:

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…”

Matthew 7:12 ESV

Wisdom is speaking – are we listening?

Posted in Christian Marriage

It’s About TIME!

You’re most likely familiar with Jim Croce’s #1 single from the 70’s, Time In A Bottle. If you’re not, you need to be! It’s one of those songs that communicates the value of lasting love. This man shares his desire to save time in a bottle just so he can spend it with his love and to make all her dreams come true.

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I’d save every day like a treasure and then
Again, I would spend them with you

Of course, once you have a few years of marriage under your belt and few kids running around your feet, it’s easy to lose sight of such passion, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Why not communicate your love for your spouse by planning this unique and fun date night as a way of reminding them of your love.

“It’s About Time” Date Night Idea – 

  • Wake your spouse up and let them know “it’s about TIME” you did something special with a flirty smile. You can choose what that something special is–fix them breakfast in bed, bring them coffee, take a shower with them when they’re not expecting you to do so, or make love to start off the day.:-) Next…
  • Each hour of the day (TIME slots) provide another reminder to them that you’re thinking of them and your date that night. Ideas: Give them a bottle filled with little notes with the hour marked outside of when they should open it. You could provide: 10 reasons you love them, 10 reasons you’re grateful for them, 10 memories you share since you’ve been together, or 10 Bible verses to encourage them. Or you could have each note offer one word of a sentence they’ll piece together as the day passes. Give the words out of order to make it more challenging. Next…
  • When your spouse arrives home give them TIME alone to relax with their favorite drink and a copy of the New York TIMES, or when you arrive home give your spouse TIME to relax with TIME in their favorite magazine or book. Next…
  • If you’re able to get a babysitter, go out and reminisce about some of your favorite TIMES together. Or visit a local cathedral that’s having a concert on the hour. **Bonus if the cathedral has a clock tower that strikes on the hour.** Next…
  • If you’re staying home, after the kids are in bed watch a movie involving time–Back To The Future is a good choice or another old classic: Somewhere In TIME.

The most important thing to remember with this date is making the most of your TIME together. We never know how long we have. Let’s not waste our TIME doing things that won’t matter in the long run. Our marriage is worth our TIME.

NOTE: When Jim Croce wrote these words he had no idea that his life would end tragically in a plane crash at the age of 30. He left behind a wife and son who still reside in San Diego, CA.

Posted in Creative Dates, Date Night Ideas, Dating Your Spouse, Fun Dates, Love Songs, Music | Tagged , ,

Hidden Fears That Haunted Me

Photo Credit: mikehawkey.com

Photo Credit: mikehawkey.com

We had been married for a few years, yet Tom still didn’t know something significant about me.

I had managed to keep this part of my life hidden from him because I was embarrassed about it. I kept thinking to myself, “Debi, you’re a grown woman. You have children of your own. You need to stop feeling this way.” But none of my lectures worked. It wasn’t that I purposed not to tell him, but I certainly didn’t look for opportunities to share this part of my life with him. What was my secret?

I was afraid of the dark.

At the time we lived in a split-level home, which meant the bedrooms were on one level–the kitchen and living rooms were on another–and our garage was on the bottom level under our bedrooms, which also held our washer and dryer. This meant I had to go down two flights of stairs to do the laundry. Being that I was secretly afraid of the dark, I managed to get all the laundry finished and put away before the sun went down. I faced a constant battle with this fear. Nothing I said helped me reason with it. Even praying for God to help me seemed to produce no release from its grip.

There were horrifying times at night when Tom would end up going to our bedroom before me and he’d holler downstairs, “Turn off the lights when you come up!” Nothing horrible about that request really, except that meant I had to ascend the stairs with the darkness nipping at my heels. I honestly felt as if something was going to bite me.

It was after one of those experiences that I asked myself, “What are you really afraid of?” I wasn’t afraid that someone would break into our home and harm me. No, I was afraid of those things that weren’t limited to locked doors and windows. When I realized this was the case, I knew my struggle was a spiritual one, and I had to tell Tom.

I grew up being teased about things like this, so I was nervous telling Tom. What if he teased me too? What if he discounted what I was feeling and told me it would be ok. Then what? I had to take this step in faith and ask for his help.

When I told him, he immediately led me to the stairs. We sat down together on the steps, he took my hand and prayed for me. He went to battle with the enemy that had been robbing me of the peace that God has promised those who love Him. His prayer was the kindest and most caring gesture I had ever experienced from him in our short time of being married. He truly loved me enough to help me overcome my fear, and it worked! After his prayer, I never experienced that fear chasing me again. Thank you, God!

As a teenager I had played around with the occult in a recreational kind of way, and I believe this is when I began experiencing my fear of the dark. This is why to this day Tom guards what I watch on TV, even having me close my eyes for some of the commercials that come on. He helps keep me from being exposed again to any form of this fear, and I can honestly say it has worked.

God has proven to me the truths of these two scriptures:

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7 ESV

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5:16

This is one way we can serve our spouse by joining with them to fight our common enemy–the devil.

He would like nothing more than to keep us isolated in our battles against sin because he knows it limits our power. Like a sheep that has gone astray is easy prey for a hungry wolf, so too, are we when we choose to fight our battles alone.

I encourage you to keep nothing hidden from your spouse. If you’re struggling with an on-going sin or temptation to sin, they need to know. Allow them to come alongside you and help you approach the Throne of Grace in your time of need. This is one of the benefits of being one flesh–my struggle has become his struggle and together God has helped me overcome the enemy of my soul.

How has your spouse helped you face similar battles?

 

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Difficulty, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Testimonies | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments