Feeling Trapped?

The other night I was slightly awakened when I heard what I thought was something bump against our screen door in the backyard. It wasn’t enough to stir me wide awake, so I continued sleeping.

The next morning I went out back just to see if there was anything unusual, or if the noises I heard was just another dream, of which I have many.

To my surprise I found a ferrel cat running frantically around the deck trying to find a way of out. He was obviously scared out of his wits–a fraidy cat (sorry, I had to do that). I attempted to open the door for him, but before I could do so he darted full speed through the screen leaving a rip in his wake.

screen rip

I was bewildered as to how this all happened in the first place. How did he get into our pool enclosure? After examining all the screens, I discovered the truth. He had apparently wandered onto our screen from the roof and fell through the top. 

Screen roof

I can only imagine the helplessness he felt as he descended onto our pool deck in the middle of the night, only to find himself trapped with no way of escape.

This demonstrated a similar predicament many couples face in marriage. We all encounter  from time to time temptations to do something we know we probably shouldn’t. A walk on the roof in the night was all this cat was hoping for. Innocent enough until he faced the unexpected. How like temptation. When we give into it we are opening ourselves up to endless possibilities that could leave us trapped and afraid.

The good news is this cat finally found his way of escape, and he took it with all the strength he could muster.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

What areas are temptations to you? Does your spouse know of your struggle? If you’ve already given into it, look for a way of escape–here’s a hint…it starts with confession and repentance. Then run full speed into the arms of your Savior. He died to set you free from the bondage to sin, and those whom He sets free are free indeed. Even if you have to run full speed through a screen wall.

(NOTE: the shape of the cross in the hole where the cat escaped.)

Posted in Christian Marriage | Leave a comment

“Yeah, Our Love Is A Goldmine”

Colbie Caillat has a new single out that celebrates lasting love, and we really love it. Take a listen with your sweetie and see if it doesn’t make you smile. Have a blessed weekend.

If all I had was a dollar and your bright smile
I’d have a dollar more than I would need to get by
Cause I’m a billionaire if you count every sunrise
Wakin’ by your side, and every good night
If all you had was the way that I love you
You’d have more honey than the honey bees in June
I’ll keep you laughin’, keep you smilin’, keep your dreams true
Long as I have you, nothin’ we can’t do

Fly me back to the moon where you took me
The very first time that you kissed me
In the sweet starlight of your endless eyes when you lit this fire
Feels like we’re sittin’ on top of a goldmine
Flame so bright that it won’t die
In a billion years it’ll still be here cause our love is a goldmine
Yeah, our love is a goldmine

If everything we ever owned disappeared today
We’d build a castle in the sand somewhere far away
Don’t need no money, no TV, don’t need no microwave
Just the ocean waves, and the love we make

Fly me back to the moon where you took me
The very first time that you kissed me
In the sweet starlight of your endless eyes when you lit this fire
Feels like we’re sittin’ on top of a goldmine
Flame so bright that it won’t die
In a billion years it’ll still be here cause our love is a goldmine

We’ll be rich in wrinkles, old and gray
When the risin’ tide sweeps us away
Until then…

Fly me back to the moon where you took me
The very first time that you kissed me
In the sweet starlight of your endless eyes when you lit this fire
Feels like we’re sittin’ on top of a goldmine
Flame so bright that it won’t die
In a billion years it’ll still be here cause our love is a goldmine
Feels like we’re sittin’ on top of a goldmine
Flame so bright that it won’t die
In a billion years it’ll still be here cause our love is a goldmine
Yeah our love is a goldmine

Posted in Christian Marriage, Love Songs, Music | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Very Special Day Indeed


Today is my husband’s birthday. It’s a date I look forward to all year so that I can thank him for the gift he is to me. I can’t imagine who I’d be if it weren’t for the influence, love and care that he has given me my entire adult life.

It’s good from time to time to imagine the hole there would be in my life if Tom were no longer here to share this adventure with me. It causes me to appreciate the little things in a more significant way.

Gifts and cards are good, but heart-felt gratitude is the best gift we can give to our spouse. Don’t let their birthday just be another day on the calendar. It’s special because it was the day God chose to breathe life into their soul, and He declared that it was good, very good!

Happy birthday, Tom Walter! I’m grateful for the past, enjoying the present and can’t wait to unwrap the future with you!

Posted in Christian Marriage | 2 Comments

Wordless Wednesday – Caption It

Share your best caption for this photo in the comments.

Share your best caption for this photo in the comments.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Wordless Wednesday | 5 Comments

What Diving In A Green Pool Reveals About Marriage

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

As most of you have probably witnessed the Olympic Divers have had quite an unusual distraction, at least for athletes of their ability.

  • They have had to dive into a murky, green pool.
  • They have had to trust that the water wouldn’t harm them.
  • They have had to believe that the pool was safe, even when it looked otherwise.

And the amazing thing about it was they were required to give it their best even in those sub-par conditions.

It’s disgusting. It’s not supposed to be that way. But it is the Olympics and they are used to adversity and disadvantage. They are used to making the best of difficulty and overcoming any and all obstacles that would deter them from reaching their goal. This is what makes them Olympians, and this is why we take notice of them.

How like marriage.

We can insist on a spouse who responds the way we want them to respond. One who listens when we unload and who offers words of encouragement when we’re down. But many times this just isn’t the case. You may give your best to a spouse who has no ability to see clearly for themselves, much less for you. You may wish for the crystal clear waters of a refreshing dive, but instead you find yourself often wondering if the conditions are safe for you to even continue. You may even be avoiding your spouse altogether.

This is when we must remind ourselves of what we vowed when we married.

We said we would be there for them when things were bad or good, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. When it gets hard is when the difficulty goes on longer than you thought it would.

The Olympians were able to get the help they needed from the experts. They worked all night to shock the pool and clear the water. It took many hands to get it done in time for the next competition. The water looked much better, but when they scanned the camera to include the pool next to it, you could still see how cloudy the water was.

In marriage, we need the help of others. There is nothing wrong with seeking the help and advice of caring friends or a compassionate pastor. Be open. Be vulnerable. Allow others to bring their observations to your situation. Most likely it isn’t all your spouse’s fault. It takes two to make a marriage work, and it takes two to tear it a part. Be willing to do your part to clear the water of conflict.

It was amazing to watch the divers focus on what mattered. It wasn’t the condition of the water, it was doing their absolute best anyway. And some actually reached their goal–a medal signifying their ability to overcome adversity.

In what ways are you having to overcome unexpected difficulty in your marriage? Are you tempted to walk away? Who could you go to for help and hope to keep you focused on making your marriage work? Remember our goal is to make it until death parts us–to our Golden Anniversary and beyond. Now that’s a gold medal to reach for and it is possible to those who stay focused on the prize by seeking the help of God and others when our communication breaks down into troubled waters.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” – Philippians 3:12-16 ESV

 

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Growing Strong Marriages, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Vintage Post – Meekness: Think Before You React Part 2

Originally posted 12.2.2010

Originally posted 12.2.2010

Nancy continues to encourage us…

Now, there’s balance in all of this because there are things we stuff that we need to say, and there are things we say that we ought to stuff. Discernment and the control of the Spirit helps us to know the difference. There are some things we should be saying that we’re not, and there are some things we shouldn’t be saying that we are. That’s where we need meekness that causes us to stop and think.

Stop and Think!  If we would simply take the time to do this each time we’re tempted to be angry, think of the conflicts which could be diverted.  It isn’t easy to stop a runaway train in it’s tracks, but God’s Spirit in us makes it possible.

Matthew Henry goes on to say that:

The work of meekness is to calm the spirit so that the inward peace may not be disturbed by any outward provocation.

Outward provocation.  Anyone can be at peace when they are not confronted with difficulty.  But this is not the life most of us live.  Our days are fraught with trouble.  Thus, requiring the help of one altogether not like us.  We need God!  Surprise, surprise!  We need a Savior and Christ has made a way for us to escape this bondage to anger, bondage to sin.

When we are provoked, meekness helps us to remember that we, too, are sinners and in need of God’s mercy. That’s why meekness and humility go hand-in-hand with each other. The humble heart is a meek heart; the meek heart is a humble heart. When we’re being provoked, we’re much more inclined to be conscious of other people’s sins than we are of our own. In fact, that’s just human nature.

We just tend to see each other’s failures through a microscope and our own through a telescope. Right? Meekness causes us to realize that we, too, are sinners, and that we are desperately in need of God’s mercy.

Nancy ends her message with several questions which are very helpful in evaluating our own hearts:

  • How do you respond when provoked by others?
  • How do you respond when they misunderstand you? When someone criticizes you unfairly?
  • How do you respond when someone insults or misunderstands your child or your mate?
  • How do you respond when your plans are blown by someone else’s insensitivity? They didn’t plan, and their lack of planning or their changing plans threw your plans into total disarray. How do you respond?
  • How do you respond when your authority is challenged?
  • How do you respond when your boss corrects you for a mistake that someone else made? Do you feel like you’ve got to point it out, that you’ve got to defend yourself?
  • How do you respond when someone else gets credit for a great idea that you had?
  • How do you respond when someone makes a mistake that costs you.
  • How do you respond when somebody cuts you off in traffic? Road rage.
  • How do you respond when somebody takes advantage of you, rips you off financially.

I want you to be asking the Lord to show you, “What kind of response do I have? Is my response meek? Or is my response angry? Am I receiving these provocations that others bring into my life as being from the hand of the Lord for my good and for His glory? Or am I reacting in a way that is resentful or retaliatory? Is there meekness in my spirit?”

This week’s look at meekness is hitting me hard – right where I live.  What about you?  How is God helping you develop a meek spirit?  We would love to hear from you!

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Keeping It Real, Vintage Posts | Tagged , , ,

Vintage Post – Meekness: Think Before You React Part 1

Originally posted 12.2.2010

Originally posted 12.2.2010

The following post is by Tom where he shares a struggle we all encounter from time to time–some more than others…

We are continuing our study of meekness, and God is helping us get the point! Nancy Leigh DeMoss provides our next point to consider!

I faced some recent circumstances which provoked me to anger.  As Debi will testify, I am not an angry person, but on this day with these circumstances I couldn’t help it.  I felt as if a wave hit me that sent my heart reeling with unexpected reactions. Debi was with me and was able to pull away to pray for me.  It’s in moments like these where God gets my attention, and I see what I would be apart from His grace at work in my heart.

We were driving to another state when all of this transpired allowing me time to dissect all that had happened and why.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the way God uses such circumstances to prove a point – to prove a Biblical Truth.  And Debi helped remind me and make the connections.

On our way home, Debi read to me from Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ next part of her series on Meekness, and we couldn’t believe the timing of God.

Meekness is shown towards our fellow man who mistreats us, insults us, treats us with injustice, in that the one who is being injured endures patiently and without any spirit of retaliation the provocations that are imposed upon him.

Meekness, according to Matthew Henry, deals with and relates to our feelings of anger. Meekness has to do with how we handle those feelings of anger. He says it doesn’t totally eradicate anger because sometimes there is justified biblical occasion for anger, but the function of meekness is to direct and control our anger so that we may be angry and sin not, as we’re told in Ephesians chapter 4. Ephesians 4:26: “Be angry and sin not.”

We were able to pause and reflect together on why I reacted the way I did.  I realize I am not at all in control of how things play out day after day.  I work hard.  I expect a certain amount of return for my investment, but this time it all went wrong.  Even though I did my best.  In moments like these I have no choice but to surrender to God who sees and knows all.  Much easier to say than do.

We have been married for almost 32 years, and this type of reaction is not normal.  I am grateful to have a wife who helps me in my weakness, not by judging me, but helping to lead me to the God who controls all the circumstances with which I am struggling.

Nancy refers to godly meekness as a bridle to our anger.  It doesn’t keep us from getting angry, but it helps us channel it appropriately.

She continues,  “Now the problem with many of us, and I’m certainly wired this way, is I tend to react before I stop and think. That’s where we get in trouble. That’s where we hurt and wound so many people and so many relationships, but meekness causes us to stop and think before we react. It slows us down.”

We have counseled many couples who struggle with anger.  It is like a uncontrollable force that overtakes them and makes them say and do things they will later regret.  But Biblical meekness protects us like a sentinel guarding us from danger.

Matthew Henry says,

Let meekness stand sentinel [let it be a guard over your heart and your tongue in your responses], and upon the advance of a provocation [when we are provoked] let us examine who it is that we are about to be angry with, and for what. What are the merits of the cause . . . what are likely to be the consequences of our resentments, and what harm will it be if we stifle them, and let them go no further?

So he’s saying meekness stands like a guard. Before you let out all this stuff, before you spew, before you say the words to your husband or your kids: “Why did you . . . Why can’t you . . . I can’t believe you . . .” Before any of that comes out, you stop and you think: “Who am I talking to? This is my husband. He is not my enemy. This is my child that God gave to me. I love this child.” Or, “This is a person who was created in the image of God.” You just stop and think, “Who am I going to talk to?” And you think, “What did that person do?”

I wish I had had the time to think through all of this before my confrontation last week.  But God has used it to get my attention on an area of my heart I probably don’t think about enough.

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Keeping It Real, Vintage Posts | 2 Comments

Wordless Wednesday – Caption It

IMG_2152

Add your best caption in the comments…

Posted in Christian Marriage, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Ten Things I’ve Learned About Marriage Playing Words With Friends

Words With Friends

I have an obsession. I love to play Words With Friends, and I usually have dozens of games going at once. I’m slowly getting better too. My average score has been steadily climbing because I’ve learned lots of new words by playing with others who are better at the game than I am. I realized there are lessons we can glean about marriage through this phone app.

What Words With Friends taught me about marriage:

  1. It’s to your advantage to choose your words carefully.
  2. It’s best to wait and see what your spouse says first before responding with words of your own.
  3. It’s not about winning, but about learning new ways to communicate.
  4. There’s a right and wrong word for every situation. Those who look at all options and are slow to speak will most likely speak wise words.
  5. You are never too old to grow in your communication skills.
  6. Focus. Focus. Focus.
  7. The words you say are connected to the words you hear. Make sure they are of value and worth speaking.
  8. Once you choose your words you can’t take them back.
  9. Even when you lose, you win because God uses the set back to teach you how to be a better spouse.
  10. Enjoy the interaction with your best friend. It’s a privilege to be in this “game” together.

 

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

7 Tips in Navigating the Waters of Change

Photo Credit: OpenWalls.com

Photo Credit: OpenWalls.com

When a couple says their wedding vows they are promising to be committed to each other through all the changes life will throw at them. Some will be expected, others will hit them out of no where making it difficult to find their course. But in order to make a marriage work, you must discover for yourselves the best way to navigate these waters.

In our 37 years of marriage we’ve faced all kinds of changes:

  • career
  • growing family
  • schooling options
  • church involvement
  • caring for aging parents
  • loss of dear friends–either by death or by them moving away
  • changing hormones
  • extended illnesses

Through all of these God has taught us what works and what doesn’t, and we want to share with you what we’ve learned. Maybe it will help you at least to ask the right questions.

When considering a ship at sea the captain must be alert for needed alterations in the course ahead. The goal is to reach the destination safely with its cargo safely in tack.

  1. First, make sure you understand what all the options are. It’s easy to assume you’re both going the same direction, but you must take the time to talk about it. You may be shooting for different points on the compass, which may not make much difference at first, but as you continue further you end up way off course.
  2. Be willing to listen to what your spouse is saying, not what you are hoping to hear. Manipulation will not serve you, your spouse or your marriage when facing major changes. All it does is make the changes harder to accept.
  3. Seek God’s will in the matter. As you both pray and make your requests known to God, He has promised to lead you in the way in which you should go. You can trust Him.
  4. Seek the counsel of others with whom you trust. It’s amazing how much this one practice has helped us face unexpected changes the most. Our friends often have more faith for us than we do ourselves. The encouragement from others carries more weight than you realize.
  5. Look at the changes with eyes of faith not fear. For some this comes natural. For others it’s very difficult to take that first step. God has promised He will help those who cry out to Him. Try it and see if it doesn’t help you as well.
  6. Remember that when you’re facing changes, it’s not the end of the story, just the beginning of a new chapter.
  7. Embrace the adventure together. Many times change brings a fresh gust of intimacy as you hoist the sails of faith not knowing for sure what lies ahead. It doesn’t have to be a frightening experience, it can be quite invigorating. Enjoy it!

Our pastor said over and over through the years that constant change is here to stay. We used to laugh at him. Now we nod our heads in agreement. We haven’t always jumped with both feet into the changes we’ve faced, but the older we get the easier it has become to let go and see where God take us.

How about you? What changes in navigation has the Lord brought your way? What did He show you in the process?

 

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

Wordless Wednesday – Caption It.

Add your best caption in the comments...

Add your best caption in the comments…

Posted in Christian Marriage, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Romantic Jenga

Photo Credit: homedit.com

Photo Credit: homedit.com

Our daughter and son-in-love made us a very creative gift for our birthdays this year. They made us a life-sized Jenga game to keep at our cabin, and it is an absolute blast to play, albeit dangerous if you happen to be in the way of the falling tower.😉

It got me wondering how could we make Jenga romantic?

We’ve taken a shot at other board games like Scrabble and Clue, so why not add a romantic twist to this one as well?

Here are the rules:

  1. There are 54 blocks in a standard Jenga tower. Take the blocks and divide them into two equal sets of 27.
  2. Each of you come up with 27 things to write on the bottom of the block. They can be a question you’re curious to ask, a romantic act of kindness, a romantic memory you both share, or a sexy dare.
  3. Stack the blocks according to package directions with the writing facing down.
  4. Play the game one block at a time. When you remove one, you have to do whatever the block asks or suggests.
  5. Whoever knocks the tower over loses. The winner gets to select one more block from the pile to give to the loser. Or you can decide at the beginning of the game what you’ll get if you win.

Jenga is a Swahili word for “build”. What a fun way to help build some romance into your marriage.

Give it a try and let us know how it goes.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Creative Dates, Date Night Ideas, Dating Your Spouse, Fun Dates, romantic date nights | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Happy Hour

img_2647

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve offered our “specials of the week”, so here goes. We hope you have a wonderful weekend finding ways to stay cool and connected.

Gary Thomas’ Blog

  • Convicted by a Cross-Dresser<<It’s probably what you’re thinking, so take a few minutes and read this one. It will provoke you as well.

Hot, Holy and Humorous

Orlando Date Night Guide

 

Posted in Christian Marriage

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

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