One More “Let’s Be” to Practice

Being present with him is a joy!

I’ve been surprised that I haven’t written more during the quarantine. One would think that a writer writes, and only needs time to do so. And that is true, unless you are practicing this final “let’s be”.

Let’s be present.

In this social media culture even being home 24/7 doesn’t guarantee we’ll be all there. I could easily get lost in my blogging world encouraging marriages all over to do this or that to help their marriages last. But if I’m not tending to my own marriage, eventually I’ll have nothing to offer but a bad example. I pray I’ll never do that. Instead, I’ll let days go by without a post in exchange for a day of golf with Tom, or spending time making an extra special dessert or dinner because food is his love language. You see my absence here usually means I’m present there with Tom.

I rarely go a day without thinking of how to encourage marriages through our blog. But many times my priorities keep me from posting right away. I share this to let you know how important it is to be present mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically with your spouse. Just because we have more time together, doesn’t necessarily mean we’re using this time for our good.

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, imagine what being present can mean?

How has this quarantine helped or hindered you being present with your spouse?

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

“Let’s Be” These 8 Things Towards Our Spouse

How are you doing in the area of kindness towards your spouse? These have been trying times for everyone and none are affected more by our discontent than our spouse. I have noticed this in my own heart, which has led me to consider how much I need the kindness born by the Spirit of God.

I can choose to be kind in my own strength, but it won’t last when the pressure mounts. The only kindness that lasts is from God. He modeled perfect kindness when He stooped to our level in order to restore us to the Father. His kindness made a way for mercy.

Consider these words written by Paul to the church in Colossae:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14 ESV

This scripture holds enough truth for us to practice for a lifetime. It commands us to put on 8 things in our dealings with others. Let’s consider our spouse and honestly evaluate how we are doing in each area in regards to how we are treating the love of our life.

1. Compassionate Hearts – How do you handle it when your spouse is hurting either physically, emotionally or circumstantially? Are you kind? Or are you tempted to be angry with the inconvenience to your schedule? These are hard questions, but ones we must consider if we are to accurately assess the condition of our heart. Being compassionate is putting ourselves in the place of another and doing whatever we can to help alleviate the suffering.

Let’s be compassionate towards our spouse.

2. Kindness – This is likened to mercy in the Bible. Mercy is God’s willingness to not give us what we deserve. Instead He shows mercy and draws us close to Him. How do we treat our spouse when they’ve wronged us, whether intentional or not? Do we take time to explain our hurt? Or do we lash back because in our eyes they deserve it? Do we draw near to them or push them away?

Let’s be kind towards our spouse.

3. Humility – This isn’t thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. I’m afraid this is one in which I often stumble. I am tempted to think too much of what Tom is or isn’t doing. This is simply pride manifesting itself in my heart, mind and actions. If I catch it I can remember that God gives grace to the humble. I can repent and ask Him to forgive me of my pride. How I need His help to overcome this one. How about you? Do you struggle in this area?

Let’s be humble towards our spouse.

4. Meekness – Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines this as mild of temper; soft; gentle; not easily provoked. I wish I could say that I excel in meekness, but without the Lord’s help continually I would stumble often in this regard. It seems the older I get the more I struggle too. I’d like to blame it on hormones, but that would be just an excuse. Certainly hormones can effect moods, but the Lord is sovereign over these as well. We must submit ourselves to His rule and reign to grow in this area.

Let’s be meek towards our spouse.

5. Patience – many joke that they would never pray for patience because the Lord would send trying situations to help us learn it the hard way. But God doesn’t treat us this way. He wants us to pursue patience because it is a fruit of His Spirit at work in our hearts. We draw near to Him and He causes the fruit to mature for His glory. Are you finding yourself impatient with your husband/wife? Do you resent having to forgive them again? Repent and ask God to fill you afresh with ahis Holy Spirit.

Let’s be patient towards our spouse.

6. Bearing with one another – Tom and I have been nipping at each other recently and it has caused us both to wonder why. We realized we aren’t bearing with each other. If we misunderstand something we tend to react instead of overlooking it. In fact this was the motivation for finding this scripture and diving into what it means. How are you handling misunderstandings lately. Don’t be surprised if you need to give this area some attention. These days have been trying for everyone. You and your spouse are no exception.

Let’s bear with our spouse.

7. Forgiveness – I love that this one follows all the ones previous. At this point I’m sensing a gratefulness for the forgiveness God has extended to me. With this fresh realization it makes it easier to pursue growth in these areas. Forgiveness opens the door for God’s grace to help me do and be what I couldn’t be in my own strength. God isn’t seeking me to be a perfect spouse. He wants to be all this through me, so He gets the glory and our marriage benefits. It stands as a testimony to what God can do in a marriage surrendered to Him.

Let’s be forgiving towards our spouse.

8. Love – 1 Peter 4:8 says that love covers a multitude of sins. What great news! Marriage is so much more than choosing to love one another. It is this and all the others mentioned above. The best news is love is what binds us together in perfect harmony.

Let’s be loving towards our spouse.

Tom and I enjoy watching The Voice. My favorite part is when they do the knockout rounds and singers are paired together to sing in harmony. One thing you can tell though, is when one sings off key the whole performance suffers. Even if the other singer is on pitch. It is the same in marriage. If you or your spouse stumbles in one or more of these areas, know that your marriage is off key. It needs to be tuned with love by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Let Him have His full way with you. Even if your spouse isn’t on board just yet. It is amazing what God can do with one heart who is willing to embrace this kindness that binds together in perfect harmony.

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Fruits of the Spirit, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Ten Ways to Not Waste This Time in Marriage

None of us expected this, but here we are. It has been the strangest worldwide event in my lifetime. We have been sheltering in place for a couple of months now, and social distancing whenever we venture out. Always going back and forth with these two questions, Is a mask really necessary? or Will a mask really help? It is a constant conversation in my mind.

This time can have benefits for our marriages if we don’t waste it.

  1. Take note of the ways you get on each other’s nerves. This is an indicator of an area in need of attention. Make time to talk about it when you are undistracted. See if you can come to a place of understanding. Repent of sinful attitudes if needed, and move beyond this speed bump.
  2. Encourage some of your time to pursue hobbies. I love to cook, so this time has been very beneficial for my hobby, and Tom loves to eat. It’s a win win! 🙂
  3. Practice kindness. Choose your words carefully when having a serious discussion. Find ways to say it with a smile–like we used to instruct our children.
  4. Remember to extend grace when your spouse is struggling.
  5. Pray for each other together or apart.
  6. Read aloud to each other. We highly recommend Cherish, by Gary Thomas. Or if you haven’t purchased our book, Cherishing Us, now is a good time to follow our healthy marriage tips each day.
  7. Don’t neglect date night. Order food delivery, or go out to a restaurant that’s opened to support their staff and community. Make love as often as you can.
  8. Limit how much news you watch or listen to. It can become very depressing to constantly fill our minds with the latest controversy surrounding COVID-19
  9. Play worship music and sing along. Let the words fill your heart and mind with God’s peace.
  10. Give each other space–time to be alone and relax.

It is a blessing to have each other to be home with each day. I remind myself often of friends who would love nothing more than to have their spouse with them still. Let’s not prove the old adage true–you never know what you have until it is gone.

We know what a gift it is to be married, the key is to show it in how we live day by day.

How have you made the most of this time at home together?

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Difficulty, Encouraging Your Spouse, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Orlando Blessing

The Orlando Eye

I was born and raised in Orlando. I am privileged to still call it home.

When Tom and I were married in 1979 I moved with him to another city in Florida for the first 18 months of our life together. It was during this time that I realized how much I love Orlando – The City Beautiful. I missed it so much. When we moved back in 1980 I’ve never considered living anywhere else. I love my hometown.

Imagine this past Sunday when our church surprised us on our live feed with the following video? 85 churches in the Orlando area were invited to take part in a project called, The Orlando Blessing. It was led by The First Baptist Church of Orlando, which is the church my parents went to when I was born. So many touchstones leading up to this video, that when I saw the production I was moved on many levels. But none more so than realizing this is only a sampling of the churches in our area, and an even tinier snippet of the churches worldwide who could join in this throng. Then, lifting my eyes heavenward to realize that the great cloud of witnesses were joining in as well. This is a powerful glimpse of what I believe Heaven will be like. Come Lord Jesus!

We pray The Orlando Blessing will bless you and your children and their children and their children…

Posted in A Fragrant Aroma, Christian Marriage, Music, Worship | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

“Tap In” with Intention

We are watching a series on Hulu titled, Alone, (on the History channel if you have cable). It’s a reality show that takes it to the next level of all other reality shows. Ten people, trained in survival skills who pass the strenuous audition, are dropped off on a remote island to live for as long as they can endure. The last one standing wins $500K. The difference with this show is there are no film crews. Each participant is given a complete camera set-up in order to document their time alone. They are allowed to “tap out” at anytime they choose; if they don’t feel safe, if they are missing home too much or if they get hurt.

It has been fascinating to watch and listen to them discover more about themselves. Some are hoping to find answers to long-standing questions. Some are running from their past and end up having to face it. Some are there for the endurance. We have watched the first three seasons and it has made our time of sheltering in place seem insignificant compared to what they are facing.

They are each given a satellite radio to call in case of emergency or to say, “I’m ready to tap out.” Once they say those two words, “tap out” their journey is over. They simply wait on the shore for the boat to come pick them up.

In season 3 one guy was ready to leave and used his radio to say, “I’m tapping out!” Once the boat arrived, he explained his reasons. He ended it by saying something that really impacted me…

“I like to think that I’m not ‘tapping out’ from the show, but I’m ‘tapping in’ to my family and what matters most. I’m ready to be home.”

Isn’t that good advice? While we are sheltering in place we could be focusing on the negative aspects of being stuck at home all day every day. Or we can think of it as “tapping in” to our family, new routines, new habits, our health. We have more time to consider these things. Or if you have a house full of children you have time to notice areas of needed attention in their lives. Things we don’t notice when running from appointment to appointment.

I have tapped in to my love for cooking and baking. I can’t remember the last time I made homemade bread without my bread machine. But I did last week and it felt good to get my hands into bread dough again. Tom has been tapping in to caring for our yard and flower garden. It is more beautiful than ever! We have also been reading to each other more, walking daily, exercising and binge watching Alone :-).

I realize that many of you may be more busy now than ever, if you are first responders or are an essential business. Can we just say thank you? While we are waiting, watching and praying, you are going and doing all for our benefit. You are exemplifying the spirit that makes America great, and we couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you!

What can you focus on this week to “tap in” with more intention?

Posted in Boredom, Christian Marriage, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s Virtually Impossible to Not Have Fun

We recently had a great family night that helped make the distance between us seem insignificant. We scheduled a Zoom call and then used Jackbox.TV to play party games together. It was so much fun, we thought it would be a good suggestion to share with you.

If you’re like us we are missing interacting face-to-face with our friends. Date nights have continued from home, but we can’t get with our friends.

Until now…

Why not plan a Double Date using Zoom? Spend time catching up with your friends first, then move on to playing some of the games Jack Box offers. The cost for Zoom is around $15 per month; and the cost for a game pack on Jack Box is around $30. (There is their original Jackbox Party Pack on sale for $12.49–see below)

https://www.jackboxgames.com/party-pack/

Think about it–for the price of one date, you can have lots of fun with friends and/or family members. This is a great way to make special memories while we’re all sheltering in place. Hopefully this season will pass soon, but until then let’s be creative with our time.

What are some creative things you’ve done to keep your regular date night alive?

Posted in Date Night Ideas | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Dealing with Conflict in Marriage

This post was originally published on our church’s website. We want to share it here as well.

It is unavoidable in marriage. How we deal with conflict makes all the difference in how healthy and strong our marriage becomes. 

  • There are couples who deal with conflict with shouting matches that could flatten a wheat field. Ken Sande in his book, The Peacemaker, calls these types, “Peace Breakers.”
  • There are couples who deal with it by ignoring it, “Peace Fakers.”
  • There are couples who deal with it by blame-shifting. 
  • There are couples who deal with it by giving the silent treatment to punish the other spouse.

We all have our natural, sin-born tendencies. But how to get beyond these tendencies to a mature response is our goal as Christians.

James 4:1-2a says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have…” 

We often ask couples who are experiencing regular conflict, “What is it you want that you aren’t getting?”

Think of your most recent conflict. With our current Shelter-in-Place ordinance, this may be happening more often than normal. What was the issue? At what point did you feel irritated or angry? Can you identify what it was that you wanted that you weren’t getting? Were you able to talk about it? Did your conversation bring a resolve to the issue or did it make things worse? The best way to know the answer to this last question is if a similar incident happens again. If you refer back to this conflict, you’ll know there is unresolved conflict hiding in your heart. 

It may be that what you are wanting is a legitimate request, e.g. more quality time together vs. quantity time. The key to growing in your ability to deal with conflict is being willing to talk about it. But when you do, there are some important rules to follow.

Five Guidelines in Discussing Heart Issues 

  1. Make sure the time is right to have a good conversation. 
  2. Come with an inquiring mind not an accusing one. “Can we talk about something that is bothering me?”
  3. Lower your voice and speak softly.
  4. Ask questions instead of making blanket statements. “When you said this did you mean it this way?” 
  5. Treat your spouse as a physician would–looking to help heal, and not as a prosecuting attorney–looking to find fault and declare them guilty.  “How can I handle this situation in the future to help you?”

This last one comes from Gary Thomas in his book, Cherish. Such great advice. 

With all of us living 24/7 in such close proximity, facing the biggest challenge in our lifetime, let’s ask God to help us be kind to each other. Let’s ask for wisdom in how to deal with our conflicts so we may grow and mature. And let’s step back and remember what a gift our spouse is to us. It’s easy to forget when all we can see are the ways they are irritating us. 

Purpose to focus on the good and the good may be all you see.

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,

    but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” – Proverbs 12:18 ESV

Links to reference books: 

The Peacemaker

Cherish

Posted in Christian Marriage, Conflict | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Good Seeds That Yield A Healthy Marriage

Questions, good questions, help a marriage grow strong and mature.
Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash

Questions, good questions, help a marriage grow strong and mature.

Think of a good question like a seed. It is sown on the soil of your marriage in the hopes of creating new life. You watch. You listen. You wait for the fruit–an honest answer. Sometimes the answer isn’t what you were expecting to hear like the answer to this age old cliche’ “Do these jeans make me look fat?” Anyone married for any length of time knows this is a slippery slope of a question. It isn’t a good question to begin with so it usually leads no where good.

In a Harvard Business Review article titled, The Surprising Power Of Questions, they share the findings of an extensive study on the power of questions. They discovered people hold back for many reasons, but below is their main conclusion:

“…most people just don’t understand how beneficial good questioning can be. If they did, they would end far fewer sentences with a period—and more with a question mark.”

This is an outstanding conclusion because we can easily begin doing this in our marriage. We may believe we know everything there is to know about our spouse, but we would be wrong. Humans are complicated and diverse. You may know more than anyone else about your spouse’s preferences, history and habits. But only God knows them intimately in every way.

How do we grow in our ability to sow good seeds (questions)? Seeds that will be sure to take root and grow?

  • Ask questions that require an answer other than yes or no. e.g. How was your day? Rather than, Did you have a good day?
  • Ask open ended questions that invite a story. e.g. What happened in your life that made you feel the most proud?
  • Be genuinely interested in the answer given. The best way to show this is by asking more questions to expound on what you’ve heard so far. e.g. What did you do when that happened? Rather than, “Uh-huh”.
  • Listen with your eyes. This has been said so many times, but it can’t be said enough. It makes a huge difference in the depth of your conversation if you give your spouse your undivided attention.
  • Realize that by asking good questions not only do you get to know your spouse better, but they grow in their understanding of themselves too.

This is in no way an exhaustive list on how to have good communication skills, but it’s a healthy start.

Imagine a meadow where good seeds have been sown. In time the maturing trees will begin to grow providing shade for all who come near. This is the benefit of good questions. It helps us grow and mature becoming all we were meant to be.

Many times our worst enemy is lack of time.

We don’t think we have the time to have a long conversation, so we don’t go there. But isn’t our marriage worth the extra effort it takes to lean in and learn. In this season where we are mostly all home with more time than ever, let’s purpose to sow some healthy seeds of communication. Get to know your spouse in a deeper way. Use our Date Night Questions found in our book, Cherishing Us, as a springboard if you don’t know where to start. (The Kindle version is on sale until Friday for only 99 cents) Or you can click our tab above to get started right away.

We have discovered that the more we ask questions, the better we get at asking them.

Date Night Prompt – Plan a night this week to ask each other good questions. After each initial question ask another to go deeper. Do this until there are no more questions to ask. See who can ask the most follow-up questions as a challenge to continue. Do this and you’ll both be winners.

My friend and blogger, Bonnie Anderson at Life on the Lighter Side, also has a book published through our publisher Prevail Press. I share with you her post about the 99 cent sale for all Kindle books purchased before Friday. These are some great book selections for all types of reading. Enjoy!

Posted in Christian Marriage | 1 Comment

Separate Together

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Social Distancing Does Not Apply Inside Your Home

We have had several people ask us about how social distancing applies in marriage. Our answer is–it doesn’t! We share everything as husband and wife–let nothing put asunder.

However, there is one exception; We don’t share our personal relationship with God. That is where we each stand alone. Of course we share what God is showing us, how He is encouraging us, and what we are learning in our study of the Bible. But there must be time for us to separate and seek Him alone.

“I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”

C.S. Lewis

There is an intimacy I share with Christ that I share with no one else. And the same goes for Tom. This is where we are separated, but together. My relationship with Jesus enhances my marriage more than anything else.

In this season of being home all the time together, let’s not neglect separating regularly to seek Him. Then when we come back together we can offer our best selves to each other.

What are you doing differently now in seeking the Lord that you weren’t doing before the pandemic hit? We’d love to hear your story.

Posted in Christian Marriage | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A Day Is Just Another Day Unless We Make It Special

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Now that we are home, all day, every day, it’s easy to lose track of what day it is. For someone who enjoys planning, this is a challenge. I made a decision to add variety to our days by changing up what’s for dinner. I love to cook and Tom loves to eat. We get along quite well this way. 🙂

Walter Weekly Menu:

Sunday – Grill (This is also Tom’s night to cook)

Monday – Date Night (We order from one of our favorite local restaurants to support them through the crisis)

Tuesday – Steak or Seafood (Since this is our one day to go grocery shopping we can buy this fresh, if available)

Wednesday – Chicken

Thursday – Leftovers (We actually eat them now.)

Friday – Wild Card (We can choose whatever sounds good)

Saturday – Italian

Walter Daily Chores:

I have also assigned different things to do each day like when to clean and where, when to write blog posts, when to do the laundry (although there isn’t much these days), and when to weed our garden.

I have found that having something different to do each day helps keep me from becoming bored. And it keeps every day from looking exactly the same.

And there are a variety of fun things we can do too:

  • Put together a puzzle. Spice it up by putting rewards under certain pieces. Whoever finds where that piece fits in the puzzle gets the prize.
  • Play Gin Rummy.
  • Go for daily walks and keep track of how many steps you’re getting in each day.
  • Binge watch your favorite movies like James Bond, Mission Impossible, Star Wars, The Godfather, Lord of the Rings, etc. Or Hallmark movies if you’re so inclined.
  • Set up an air mattress out under the stars and enjoy the…crickets 😉
  • Hide Easter Eggs in the house for your spouse to find. Put one word in each egg and once they find them all, unscramble the message. Make this as hot as you wish.
  • Have a spa night complete with massage, bubble bath and soft music. Don’t forget the candles.

We have also made a Prayer Board that is getting longer each day. Whenever we hear of someone in need of our prayers it helps us to write it down so we are faithful to pray as we said we would. We like to begin each day reading our daily devotional from the You Version app. We are also enjoying Paul Tripp’s New Morning Mercies, one we highly recommend!

I am reading Jay and Katherine Wolf’s book, Suffer Strong. It has been a timely read for me on many levels. I will share more about it when I’m finished.

Tom is reading Tim Lane and Paul Tripp’s book, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, again. This is one of his favorite books on how to do community. It has been timely for him as well, since we are missing community so much.

I am also involved with helping our neighborhood children (and adults too) have something with which to look forward. We have had events like Chalk The Walk, Peek and Seek Teddy Bear Hunt, and we are planning something really fun for Easter weekend. I can’t share it yet–it’s a secret.

How are you making the best of this time at home? I would love to hear your ideas. Let’s spur each other on as we lean in to our family during this crisis. We pray you will be well through it all.

Blessings.

Posted in Christian Marriage | 1 Comment

Just Another Day Sheltering In Place

At Home mini golf course date.

We are really enjoying our time together at home during this crisis, and we are grateful to be in good health. But four weeks in and we’re having to get creative with our time. So far we have:

  • Walked daily around our block
  • Weeded, fertilized and watered our garden
  • Cooked a lot of meals
  • Baked a lot of treats
  • Ordered take out from some of our favorite locally owned restaurants
  • Read books
  • Hosted our first Zoom Marriage Community Group meeting
  • Played cards
  • Put together a jigsaw puzzle
  • Drawn encouraging chalk drawings on our driveway
  • Hidden teddy bears for our neighbors to spot from the street
  • Prayed. Worshiped and read our Bibles

It has been like a staycation only with the added reminder to care and pray for those on the frontline of this horrible pandemic. 

Monday we tried our hand at mini golf…inside our house. We set  up nine holes using styrofoam cups as our “hole”.  We placed many obstacles in the way to make it even more challenging. But the most difficult part of the course was our unleveled floor. Tom would hit the ball right next to the cup, only to watch it roll and roll and roll faraway from the cup. But don’t feel sorry for him; never feel sorry for Tom when he’s losing. He always makes a comeback and this time was no different. He beat me by one point. ;-/

And here are some photos of our mini golf challenge:

What have you been doing with your time? We’d love to hear.

 

Posted in Christian Marriage, Dating Your Spouse, Difficulty, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

How Will We Respond In Crisis? The Choice Is Ours

How will you respond in crisis? The choice is yours. Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash[/caption]

Today is a guest post by Sheri Bybee Mitchell with Good Job, Mama on Facebook. I met her a while ago after she left an excellent, thought-provoking comment on a post. Since she doesn’t have a blog that I can share with you, I asked her to share this excellent post she wrote on Facebook about a crisis she and her family went through a decade ago. What God showed her is applicable to us today. That is if we have ears to hear what God may be saying to us in our current crisis. 

The Choice Is Ours

Anger
Fear
Mistrust
Confusion
Accusation
Chaos
Division
Complaining
Dissension
Selfishness

That is what I see played out day after day on Facebook during this crisis.

What do we NEED in this time?

More…

Compassion
Kindness
Gentleness
Understanding
Humility
Faithfulness
Gratitude
Grace
Hope
Joy
Truth
Mercy
Love

Every situation we face in life reveals our hearts and gives us the opportunity to make a choice. We either go deeper into what has been revealed, becoming entrenched in what has been revealed, or we seek to change and become something better. This current circumstance is no different.

When our family went through homelessness from 2010-2013, that struggle revealed that I had NO trust in the goodness of God, nor in the fact that He knew what He was doing. I was angry, afraid of everything and everyone, ungrateful, self-centered, and willing to cast blame. I wanted to be in control and I wanted my life to be easier.

That crisis in our lives SHOOK me to my very core. It was EXTREMELY difficult and it lasted a LOT longer than I ever thought possible.

And it was good, so good for me.

Being homeless stripped me of any pretense and revealed the truth of my heart. And what was revealed was not good!

In that struggle God revealed the truth of my heart and then He set out to redeem, restore and renew all that He wanted to be in my heart….

Faith
Hope
Joy
Grace
Mercy
Humility
Gratitude
Compassion
Love

Every day, through the many circumstances of life, God continues to show me areas of my heart where I have yet to fully surrender. Areas where I choose fear over faith, control over trust, accusation over understanding, irritation over compassion, anger over love.

Yet, I can also see how much I have grown and changed since those years of homelessness. I can see where I have grown in trusting Him and the goodness of His heart. I can see where I have less fear of people and what they might think of me. And I see where I have grown in the ability to love, which is the mark of those who truly follow Christ.

God continues to use the circumstances of my life to draw me to His side and teach me of His heart.

He continues to be faithful and true, worthy of my trust and my love, for He continues to make me into the woman He created me to be…one who reflects the image of His Son.

Crisis and struggle can cause us to become ugly, angry, fear-filled, hopeless, bitter, selfish people.

Or crisis and struggle can be the scalpel that reveals and removes the ugliness and sin that has taken up residence in our hearts, and allows us to look and act more like Jesus.

Which one will this current crisis be for you?

____________________________

Sheri has been married for 27 years, 20 of which were incredibly difficult. Had four kids in four years, which was chaotic and wonderful, but never easy. Life has included health challenges, family challenges, financial struggles, and relationship struggles. Through it all, God was faithful and good, and He redeemed, restored and renewed health, marriage, family and finances. Sheri is a diehard introvert who enjoys being alone, but God continues to stretch her to share her life with others through social media, magazine articles and, eventually, a book, in order to bring glory to His name and help others in their own journey of life. You can follow her on Good Job, Mama on FaceBook.

Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Conflict, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

To Love and Cherish

We were asked to share the following post with our church family. We wanted to share it with you as well…

Most of us included this line in our marriage vows. And if you are like us, you have probably assumed love and cherish are the same. This is not true.

Gary Thomas in his book, Cherish, expounds on this in great detail. We encourage you to read it together as a couple if you haven’t yet.

Today, as we are all spending much more time together as couples, we want to give you something to help strengthen your relationship.

Gary compares the difference between love and cherish as follows:

  • Love thinks about others with selflessness…Cherish thinks about its beloved with praise.
  • Love doesn’t want the worst for someone…Cherish celebrates the best in someone.
  • Love puts up with a lot…Cherish enjoys a lot.
  • Love is about commitment…Cherish is about delight and passion.

He asks the following:

“If you believe your marriage has all but died or even just gotten a little stale, the hope behind learning to cherish each other in marriage is found in this, God is more than capable of teaching us and empowering us to treat and cherish our spouses the way he treats and cherishes us.” page 22

Marriage is hard work. And if you’ve been married longer than a minute, you know this to be true. Your spouse is unlike you, which causes great delight at times and other times great distress. How you handle the differences is what makes your marriage “for better or for worse.”

If you are in a “worse” season of marriage, we have very good news for you. Your best days are just around the corner. We have seen it time and time again. Couples who lean into the winds of adversity and allow God to deal with them as He sees fit, discover God was preparing a sweet blessing for them on the other side.

What does it look like when a couple leans into each other as husband and wife?

They listen to each other’s perspective, pray for God’s wisdom and allow Him to lead them through the storm. They humbly ask forgiveness when sin has been revealed. They ask questions to understand rather than point fingers to condemn. They discover what being cherished looks like to their spouse.

Christian married couples should  acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s involvement in your marriage. What is He wanting to do to strengthen and grow your marriage for His glory? What area is a hot spot? Have you asked His perspective on the struggle?

We encourage you to make the most of the time God has given you to be together in this season.

Plan a regular night each week to talk about these things. Make it your “at-home date night.”Read together, talk openly about your fears, hurts, and discouragements. Celebrate areas where God is giving you faith and hope. Ask what you can do to cherish your spouse during this season of COVID-19.

We are in this together, but no one is as close to you as your spouse. Let’s cultivate our marriage so it will stand this test. Our prayer is that the marriages at Metro will bring great glory to God and be an outstanding example for our children. They are watching and learning by our example.

Posted in Cherishing, Christian Marriage, Difficulty | 1 Comment

Vintage Post – Emoceans


(Originally posted April 8, 2017)

We’ve had a front row seat to the magnificent ocean off the coast of Mexico all week long. It has been a soothing rhythm providing peace to our souls. 

I was praying and God reminded me how much the ocean is like Him:

  1. He is constant in His love, wave after wave.
  2. He is powerful, able to fell the mightiest of ships with wind and water alone
  3. He is merciful, keeping His power reigned in for our sake.
  4. He is beautiful, providing nourishment to all who enter in.
  5. He is vast and more than we can fathom, but He is good.

Such Truth that informs my heart!

Emotions can seem much the same for those who are held captive by its torment.

  • They can come upon you in waves.
  • They can bring you to your knees.
  • They can be difficult to reign in.
  • They can feed our souls with lies and distortions
  • They can be more than we can handle at times.

I have been tossed about on a sea of “emoceans” more than I care to admit. Tormenting and even frightening at times.

This can cause even strong marriages to struggle! A marriage on the brink before an emotional test comes can capsize causing all hope to disappear of ever finding a safe marriage haven.

But there is hope! God in His ocean-sized mercy is greater than our fickle, storm-tossed emoceans. The key is finding the time to talk with each other about the emotions which torment us. 

It could be a job change or loss, financial insecurity, difficult children who don’t sleep, hormone fluctuations, etc. or it could be something lacking in your marriage. This type of emotional torment can be the hardest to reign in unless someone you know and trust is willing to help.

The first step is seeing the problem, then second, admitting you need help. There is no need for you to continue tossed about on the sea of emoceans. Jesus calmed the storm tossed sea and He can do the same for your marriage. 

Posted in Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Vintage Posts | 3 Comments

Happy Hour – Five Friday Favorites

Five Friday Favorites to Grow Your Marriage

We  haven’t shared a Happy Hour post in a long time. We thought since we’re all home now, we could use some encouragement for our marriages. Here is what many of our dear friends from the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association are writing.

Grab your favorite beverage and enjoy….Cheers to Us!

  1. The Forgiven Wife

2. One Flesh Marriage

3. Hot, Holy and Humorous

  • How Sex Can Help Us Cope – This post is from February, but it applies very much in our current pandemic. Thank you J.

4. The Generous Wife

5. The Generous Husband

  • Get Naked – This post is exactly what you might think. In this current crisis what can sooth the soul more than sexual intimacy with the lover of that soul? Be inspired!
Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Five Friday Favorites, Growing Strong Marriages, Happy Hour, Sexual Intimacy | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Living History – What Will Be Remembered?

I know we are all in the midst of biggest crisis we’ve ever faced in my lifetime–and I’m 60. It is unprecedented, which adds to the temptation to be anxious. In times like this it is good to pause and look up. Instead of focusing on what’s for dinner or if your symptoms are serious or just allergies, why not look up at the big picture?

As long as the earth has existed there have been challenges, diseases, wars and uncertainty. One thing that has always happened is that life goes on. We will recover from this pandemic. There will be Summer and Fall and Winter, unless the Lord returns. So how will we remember this crisis?

Have you thought that your children and grandchildren are living in days they will talk about for the rest of their lives? This pandemic will be studied in history classes 50 years from now. It is a history making event. This makes how we display our response to our children critical.

Will they see you both making the most of the time together, or worried and anxious? Will they remember quality time spent? Or will they wish they could escape for some much needed peace? Take some time and consider your honest answers to these questions.

I have learned that most often our response to difficulty is more important than surviving the difficulty itself. What has been your response so far?

Our daughter’s neighborhood is doing a fun thing to make this experience a memorable event for their children. Residents were invited to place teddy bears in the windows of their homes (see photo above) looking out at the street. As people were out taking a much needed walk, they were encouraged to “spot the bears” from the street, take a photo and send the total number of bears spotted to one email address. What a great way to add some fun the kids will remember.

Another neighborhood had neighbors write positive encouraging messages on the road and sidewalks using chalk, so neighbors could read them as they walk around the block.

How about setting up lawn chairs in your driveways and visiting with neighbors from your own property? Social distancing, but still interacting neighbor to neighbor.

If you don’t have children at home, this is a great opportunity to get some much needed projects done around the house: painting, organizing, spring cleaning and gardening. We don’t have to let the stress of COVID-19 penetrate our every waking thought. God is in control and we can trust Him.

Let’s be smart and make the most of the time. Remember the big picture and how this event will be remembered by our children and grandchildren–long after we’re gone. It matters more than we know.

“What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life – to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?” – George Eliot

Posted in Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Finding Joy, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Patiently Waiting And Watching

Spring is a time for pruning allowing new growth to come.

Photo by Marina Mazur on Unsplash

Spring. It’s the time when I brave my rose hedge (thorns) to prune it to half it’s size. It is always difficult to start because they look healthy, but they’re not. They need to be cut back to grow healthier shoots. I’m always amazed at how well they do after the cuts.

Pruning is necessary for new growth

We bought another plant a couple of years ago–a crepe myrtle. It also requires pruning. But I am not as familiar with this bush as I am my roses. So my cuts were a bit more trepid. I’ve seen others do it, but this didn’t help me make confident cuts.

I waited weeks for those first signs of new growth. Nothing. Did I kill it? Were my cuts harmful rather than helpful? I was sad to think I had killed it. Still I waited. Tom checked almost daily.

Finally, we were rewarded with that for which we’d hoped…new growth. Our little bush had survived it’s first hard pruning and I am relieved and thrilled!

Like my crepe myrtle we are all facing a hard pruning of sorts. And this is a first for many of us. We are wondering if we’ll make it. Will new growth appear? Will our favorite restaurants survive? Will the economy recover? Will my job still be there when the dust has settled?

My parents endured the Great Depression and WWII. They came to be known as The Greatest Generation, and I would agree. Everyone I know whose parents were of similar age as mine, said their parents didn’t talk about it. It was something they lived through and endured, but once it was over, it was over. Their willingness to submit to the pruning, and the new growth that came as a result of their sacrifice was worth it. We have lived on that new growth our entire lives. Now it is our turn to be pruned.

What will be said of us? Did we rise to the occasion and do the right thing? The brave thing? I pray it will be so. God in His wisdom is doing what only He can do. And because He is God, we can trust Him in the process.

I have found a refuge each evening at sunset. I go to our backyard and look to the sky. I watch as the stars come out one-by-one–the very ones that God created and knows by name. I give my burdens of the day to God and ask Him for help and wisdom. I pray for all my family who seem farther away than ever. I acknowledge my lack and His sufficiency. I worship Him for who He is and for the promises He’s given us. And I give Him thanks!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

And you know what I’ve discovered? God’s peace has wrapped itself around me. I feel this hedge of protection allowing me to rest when all the world is in turmoil. It is a peace that is without understanding. But God.

We have been pruned. Now we must patiently wait and watch for the new growth. It will surely come.

 

 

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Prayer | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Will You Pray With Us?

Will you pray with us?

Today is Sunday. The day most of us are used to a very different routine–getting up and ready to go to our local church to fellowship with friends, worship God and hear the preached Word. But today most of us will gather our family in our living rooms to watch our local church service on Facebook Live. What a strange shift in our routine, but one I am freshly thanking God we have. If this had happened only ten years ago, this option would have been impossible. It’s healthy to look for the good in difficult situations, and this is very good!

Before the day gets underway, will you take a moment and pray with us? 

Dear Father,

You know all things from the beginning to the end, and we know that Your plans for us are good. But in the waiting, in the struggle, life can seem hard and circumstances difficult to understand, much less endure. We remember the words in Lamentations that say,

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

This is something we must do–call to mind the truth that Your steadfast love never ceases. It continues through famine, sickness and plagues. Your mercy never comes to an end–in fact it renews every morning. Regardless of the news of the day, or how far the spread of COVID-19 goes…

You are our faithful God, and we choose to praise You.

We don’t know what to do through this unprecedented pandemic, so our eyes look to You. As we wait, would you envelop our marriage, family and home with peace?

We ask that You set a guard at the door of our homes that prevents worry, fear and torment from entering in and causing turmoil.

Help us find resolve to long-standing conflict. Give us patience with our children who are home and unable to play with friends.

Provide for our needs financially and give us our daily bread.

May we be salt and light to our neighbors around us, and be generous with all who are in need that You bring our way.

We pray for those who are on the frontline of this battle. Give them endurance, wisdom and most of all health.

Help us, O Lord, to honor You not only with our lips, but with our whole heart. You are worthy of all praise. You are Lord over all including this virus, and we choose to trust You.

In Jesus’ Holy Name,

Amen

Let this song wash over your troubled soul today. It is our prayer for you. 

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, In Sickness, Keeping It Real, Music, Prayer, Seasons of Life, Worship | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

These are challenging times for all of us. How do we spend this time together?

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

You may be more aware of time now that our lives have slowed to a crawl. With schools closing, theme parks gone dark, workers being sent home, and sickness threatening our loved ones, time is loudly and slowly ticking by. Time used to fly. Now it seems to have landed and is screaming for our attention.

Can you relate?

What are we to do with all this time? There are only so many movies you can watch and too much screen time isn’t healthy for our kids or for us.

It may seem obvious to some, but in our normal fast-paced culture have we forgotten a basic of life? How to communicate face to face with those we love?

Our kids are used to being entertained, escorted from one activity to another, or steeped in team-related sports from the moment they awake until their heads hit the pillow at night. When they aren’t doing this, they are playing video games, texting or playing with friends or watching TV.

And us? We stay just as busy; packing lunches, doing laundry, cleaning house, yard work, helping with school homework. Not to mention our own work load outside of the home with our careers and church ministry. But what do we do now that we have all this time together?

If you are an empty-nester, your home may already seem eerily quiet. This social distancing has made the quiet even louder. You want to connect, but aren’t sure how to begin.

If your marriage is not in a great place, you may realize it now even more since there are no diversions to keep you distracted. You want to get the conversation started, but it seems awkward and is it really worth stirring it all up again?

If your kids avoid spending time with you, this has made the tension even more uncomfortable. You long for your family to enjoy being together during this time, but it all seems too far gone to redeem.

I have good news! God is in the relationship business. He knows how to restore what has been broken. Don’t lose heart. This may be the very time God has chosen to help you and your family grow and change. As long as you are breathing, there is hope!

For the Empty Nester:

  • Do something unexpected to surprise your spouse.
  • Be the one to initiate sex.
  • Go for a walk at sunset holding hands.
  • Spend time talking using our Date Night Questions (see top menu bar).
  • Have another couple over to play cards or a board game.
  • Put together a puzzle.

For the Struggling Couple:

  • Purpose to be an encourager. Look for the good in your spouse and celebrate it.
  • Reflect back on what attracted you to your spouse in the first place. Tell them!
  • Do what you did at first, if you’ve lost your first love.
  • Pray for your spouse and ask God to help you make the most of this time together.
  • Read Cherish, by Gary Thomas. If your spouse will read it with you, that’s even better.
  • Plan an in-home date night using our DRAB Dates as a springboard of ideas. (NOTE: DRAB stands for “Does Not Require Babysitter), because they’re all at home dates.

For the Family:

  • Get outside together as much as possible
  • Play hide and go seek or play Hide the Timer. (Take a kitchen timer, the kind the ticks loudly, and set it for 5 minutes. They have to find the timer before it goes off. The fun part of this game is they have to be quiet to listen for the timer.)
  • Play a group video game like Just Dance
  • Play 20 Questions. You start by thinking of something. They ask yes or no questions and try to figure out what you’re thinking.
  • Have a No Screen Time policy during meals together. Ask your kids questions about topics that interest them.

The clock is tick-tocking away. May we seize this opportunity to connect with those who mean the most to us. 

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Boredom, Christian Marriage, Difficulty | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

10 Ways To Avoid Cabin Fever

10 Ways To Avoid Cabin Fever

Photo by Per Lööv on Unsplash

Cabin fever is the term used for those who can’t leave their house. In our current crisis brought on by COVID-19, we must be smart and prepare. However, that doesn’t mean we have to forego pursuing our spouse. In fact, it is in times like these when we need to lean in and connect heart to heart. Who needs to go out to enjoy time together when you have all you need at home to provide a great memory.

Here are 10 Ways to make the most of cabin fever:

  1. Plan a dinner and a movie night. Pick a favorite movie or TV show you both enjoy. Plan a meal using the location of the movie as your inspiration. Examples: Blue Bloods (New York-style pizza), Forest Gump (Shrimp Recipes), Julie and Julia (Anything French)
  2. Backyard Picnic under the stars. After you have put the kids to bed, move outdoors by candlelight, soft music and your favorite beverage with dessert.
  3. Indoor Putt-Putt course – This takes a bit of planning, but could be so much fun. Make it even more so by incorporating some of our Romantic Putt-Putt rules to your course.
  4. Hide and Go Seek – This one is the Mall Version, but you can alter it to fit your home/yard/neighborhood.
  5. Make Your Own Pizza – have fun in the kitchen making pizza. Try kneading the dough together – very sensual.
  6. Step back in time and watch old TV shows like Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, or Hawaii Five O. If possible buy store bought Frozen dinners and eat on trays while watching your favorite. Or if you like to cook, make your own version of a TV dinner. It includes an entree, starch, veggie and dessert.
  7. Using You Tube learn how to ballroom, salsa or square dance. Whatever you want, it’s available on You Tube.
  8. Set up a tent in your bedroom. If you’re able set it on your bed. Add lots of pillows and a flashlight. Tell each other scary stories you remember as kids. Don’t forget the s’mores.
  9. Walk Down Memory Lane – This is a great time to watch the old home videos you never seem to do. Or pull out old photo albums. Any diversion from the current state-of-affairs is good therapy.
  10. Pray and Worship together. How often we neglect the basics in the busyness of life. Now is the time to seize these moments to redirect our focus from fear to faith and hope.

It is our prayer that you will all stay at peace as we ride out this storm together. God will not leave us on our own to figure this out. He has promised to walk with us through the difficulty. Coronovirus is no exception.

Posted in Boredom, Christian Marriage, Creative Dates, D.R.A.B., Date Night Ideas, Romance in Marriage | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments