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

Do You Believe The Truth Or Lies In Your Marriage?

What lies have you believed about yourself that your spouse say aren't true?

I was praying about this post not sure exactly what needed to be said. That’s when the above rhyme came to me. I had to read it, write it, think about it and then I realized the truth in its simple meter.

I came into our marriage with many life experiences both good and bad. The thing is I didn’t know the difference. I had formed opinions of myself that were not true. The way I discovered this was hearing how Tom saw me. My first reaction was to discount his thoughts as I clung to the lies I had always believed.

The same was true for him. He immediately felt comfortable with me on our first date. Things that made him self-conscious on other dates didn’t happen with us. Why? I have no logical answer other than we were meant to be together.

I don’t believe in soul mates, per se. At least not in the way many define them. I know God has called me to be with Tom, but he isn’t the one who fulfills me or completes me. Only God can do that for me. And it’s the same with him.

However, God uses marriage in a marvelous way to take two sinners and make them more like Christ as they learn to lay their lives down for each other. I used to think only about me and my own interests. Now Tom and his interests have just as much priority in my heart and mind. It has taken years to get him to that place in my heart. Not because I didn’t love him, but because I had to unpack all the lies about myself that was taking up so much space.

Do you realize the compliments your spouse says about you are true to them? Whether or not you believe what they say, it is still true. 

How do you respond when you spouse compliments your appearance, your accomplishments or your character?

Do you disbelieve them? If you do, can I encourage you to reconsider why? Who told you the opposite of what your spouse is saying? Was it you or someone who was supposed to love you? Remember you have an enemy that wants nothing more than to keep you caught in this trap.

Once you are married the only opinion that matters is what your spouse thinks of you.

If you struggle to believe the compliments they give you, please take this matter to heart. Pushing it away only keeps the lies active. It’s time to push the lies away and trust that your spouse loves you and wouldn’t lie to you about such things. Ask God to help you see yourself as your spouse sees you.

Beautiful!

Smart!

Kind!

Important!

One of my favorite scenes from the movie, The Help, shows a little girl that she must believe the truth of who she is, not what she hears or believes inside her…

Of course, if your spouse belittles you or puts you down on a regular basis, you need help. Do not delay. A spouse should never be the source of the lies we embrace. This is not normal and it is not healthy. Seek help, even if you are the only one willing to go. Your mind and heart need the truth.

Take a few minutes and think of the times your spouse has said something kind or complimentary to you. Do you believe them or brush those positive thoughts aside? May I nudge you to ask God what He thinks of you? You may be surprised to hear that He sees you perfect in light of Christ in you.

Maybe it’s time to surrender the lies and begin walking in the truth of who your spouse and God says you are. 

This is how the Good News of the Gospel invades our reality and makes all the difference. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and our marriages are created to model how Christ sees us and loves us.

Emotional Intimacy Prompt: Ask your spouse, in what ways do I disregard the things you say about me? What can I do to reverse this pattern? 

 

 

 

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Emotional, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Intimacy | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Today’s Moments Make Tomorrow’s Memories

Today's moments make tomorrow's memories

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

It happens every Spring. Sitting outside for dinner on our back porch I hear the crickets chirping their greeting to us. It immediately reminds me of going to my grandmother’s home when I was a child.

They lived on 12 acres in Clermont, FL, with a grove of orange and grapefruit trees surrounding their home. The crickets loved living there, at least it seemed so based on how loud they sang.

Now whenever I hear them I’m reminded of those days and how much I loved my grandmother. This made me wonder what things remind my spouse of times we have shared together?

We just returned from our anniversary trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. We had lots of time to talk and enjoy being together. When we travel we will often ask each other what are the things we are doing today that we will remember fondly in the years to come? It helps us be mindful of our choices and make the most of the time.

In regard to practical everyday ways to bless my husband, I know Tom loves the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. Actually he loves the smell of anything baking, cooking, sautéing or grilling. He is a real foodie and since I love to cook, it’s a win-win.

His Mom was full-blooded Sicilian and had the best Italian sauce recipe. For years I tried to get her to share it with me. She would always smile and say, “I don’t measure. I just make it.”

Ways to bless my husband through cooking family traditions

Fortunately, I don’t give up easily. I watched her one day and wrote down all the ingredients she used as well as guessed at the amounts. After lots of practice I finally got it. She passed away three years ago, and we still miss her.

I’m happy to report that her sauce is continuing to make my husband’s sense of smell smile, if that’s possible. I also secured his German grandmother’s Mustard Pickle and Chili Sauce recipes. It’s important to discover the things that will make your spouse’s day, and then do all you can to make them smile. For my husband it’s food. For your spouse it could be any number of things. If you don’t know, ask. Pay attention to their desires, often mentioned under their breath while thinking aloud. This is a small way to celebrate who your spouse is and what helps them enjoy life.

Here is a poem I wrote years ago titled, The Cricket’s Will. It came to me not surprisingly, in the Spring.

The sky is filled with singing

Every moment of the day.

Birds of every kind partake,

For God has planned it this way.

He calls the birds to praise Him.

They are compelled to obey.

They never hold back a note,

But faithfully give away.

Oh!  That we were like the birds

To sing whate’er the weather;

Responding to our Lord’s call,

Our praise daily unfettered.

As the sun begins to fade

A sadness draws nearer still;

Who will fill the air with praise?

Ah! The crickets will!

Posted in Celebrations, Cherishing, Christian Marriage, In-Laws, Romantic Ideas, Travel, Vacations | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Do You Practice This In Your Marriage?

Do You Practice This In Your Marriage?

My word for this year is Contentment. Imagine my excitement when I discovered, The Contentment Journal, by Rachel Cruze. It’s a 90 day devotional where she gives prompts everyday to help you discover how you’re doing in three areas:

  1. Gratefulness
  2. Humility
  3. Contentment.

She says,

“Before we can be content, we must be humble. And before we can master humility, we have to be grateful. After all, there’s no room for comparison and discontentment in a heart filled with gratitude.”

I’m realizing how much this is helping our marriage. Spending 30 days focusing on gratitude opened up a new appreciation for Tom and the things he does for me without thought. He’s not thoughtless, he’s formed a habit of being intentional to care for me in practical ways. If I’m not paying attention this could easily be taken for granted.

In what ways does your spouse care for you on a regular basis? Has it become unnoticed because they have done it for so long? Have you developed an expectation in this regard?

If so, can I encourage you to take a 30 day gratitude challenge? Make it a point at the end of each day to thank them for something they have done, said or planned to bless you. It can be as small as doing a mundane task daily, or as big as finishing a huge project you’ve asked them to do for months. Whatever it is, the point is to notice.

We all want to be noticed and appreciated. But no one more than by our spouse.

Today is our 41st wedding anniversary, and we have not arrived. We are still learning and growing in this area of gratefulness. It’s especially crucial now when so many in this season settle into their comfortable lives and hit auto-pilot. Please don’t do this! Make this a priority everyday as long as you both shall live. After all, gratefulness glorifies God and lifts our eyes above what troubles us. It makes us value what is invaluable.

May your days be filled with gratefulness to God for the spouse with whom you share life and love.

Happy Anniversary Tom! I thank God for the miracle of YOU. I love our story and I love us.

41 years ago today.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

And Our Winner Is…

The Winner – Romantic Breakfast for His Valentine

Congratulations go to Adam. You did an outstanding job romancing your valentine!

We love making this holiday special and never want to take for granted the blessing it is to have someone with whom to share it. This is why we enjoy celebrating all the holidays. You’ll find ideas for them all under our Only Husbands and Only Wives tab at the top of our page.

St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching. Why not make plans to surprise your spouse? What’s at the end of that rainbow anyway?

Have a romantic weekend!

Posted in Date Night Ideas, Romancing Your Valentine 2020 | Tagged | 1 Comment

Vintage Post – Stirring The Embersi

Avoid the drift in marriage by flirting with your spouse. Here are some ways to get started.

Photo by Yuriy Bogdanov on Unsplash

(Originally posted on June 22, 2009)

Flirting can be a sinful way for singles to draw attention to themselves with the opposite sex.  We are warned repeatedly in scripture not to practice such things!

However, if you’re married – have at it!

It’s perfectly permissible to flirt regularly with the one who loves you “til death do us part”.  If you have never practiced this before you may feel awkward or even shy about it, but don’t let this stop you.  In fact, if this is the case, then you have waited too long to make the most of this God-ordained relationship.  The Song of Solomon is full of examples that we’re to model in wooing our spouse in love.

“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.”    Song of Solomon 2:14

Here are some quick ideas to help you practice:

  • Come up with a secret code to communicate across the room your intentions for later
  • Have a private pet name for each other and keep it that way
  • Send your spouse a steamy e-mail
  • French kiss your spouse when they least expect it
  • Whisper sweet somethings in their ear during a meeting
  • Kiss them all over while they’re on the phone
  • Mouth the words “I love you” without speaking.
  • Use your senses – click here for lots of ways to flirt his senses (these ideas can be used for either wife to husband or vice versa)

May we encourage you to start flirting with your husband/wife today?  It is the best and most effective way to keep those embers of romance burning in your hearts for one another, not to mention its great fun!

Posted in Boredom, Growing Strong Marriages, Romance in Marriage | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Now Is The Time

Our Valentine Dinner

Valentine’s Day has passed, so the time has come to share what you did to enter our Romance Your Valentine Contest.

First I must confess that this year was difficult. You see our anniversary is 10 days after Valentine’s Day, so I plan that day and Tom plans our anniversary. Normally this is a lot of fun for me. But this year has been oh so difficult. As you know our granddaughter has been fighting PANDAS and it takes much of our time, prayers and emotional energy. When it was time to think of romancing Tom, my mind was blank. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what to do much less how to pull it off.

Finally, I asked God to help me and He gave me the idea to have a night of remembering. I made the meal we had on our first date (Veal Oscar); We played Romantic Scrabble; I shared a scrapbook I made for Tom over 20 years ago, and more that I choose not to share. 😉

Not all plans are easy to come by, but all are worth the effort. We may not feel like doing it because of outside stressors, but this is when we choose to do it over what we feel or don’t feel. Our Valentine’s evening was one of my favorite ever.

Now it’s your turn to tell us about yours.

Send us an email to theromanticvineyard@gmail.com explaining how you romanced your Valentine. We will choose the best story, solely at our discretion, announcing the winner on Friday, February 21st. That gives you 4 days to submit your entry.

Bonus points if…

  • You share our contest on any social media outlet (let us know in your entry letter)
  • You send a romantic photo of you both on Valentine’s Day
  • You visit our Wives or Husbands Only page and mention one idea you really love

Entries will be judged on creativity, romantic element, and style of writing.

Now for the Prize:

$25 gift card to your favorite restaurant and/or coffee shop

A signed copy of our book,  Cherishing Us–365 Tips for a Healthy Marriage

Send your entries now! ❤️

Posted in Christian Marriage, Contests, Romancing Your Valentine 2020 | Tagged | 3 Comments

The Valentine’s Day Attitude Of A Healthy Marriage

On Valentine's Day try changing your expectations and see how much more you enjoy the day.

Today is Valentine’s Day. Rather than talk about the romance of it all, Gary Thomas shares how to adjust our attitude so we’re not disappointed when our spouse doesn’t do or say something we were hoping they would. He calls it having a Monk’s Marriage attitude…

Isn’t it true that many marital arguments result from disappointment with our spouses? We want them to be something or do something or catch something and they aren’t or they don’t, and we feel sorry for ourselves. We really do want them to love us like God loves us. We expect them to just know when we’ve had a hard day; to know that we’re lying when we say, “Don’t worry. It’s no big deal. I don’t need anything special”; to know that we need them to be strong or soft, to yield or to hold firm, just because that’s what we need them to do. If they truly loved us, they would know, right?

Be honest: Don’t you think or feel that way sometimes?

And you do recognize that’s an impossible burden for a human spouse right?

But what if I sought a “monk’s marriage”? What if I decided that I would depend on God alone, expecting nothing from my spouse but depending entirely on God for all my needs, including emotional and relational needs?

Then instead of resenting what my spouse doesn’t do, I’ll be overwhelmed (in a good way) by every little thing she does do. I’ll be filled with gratitude instead of resentment.

Isn’t the opposite exactly what happens in marriage? When you’re dating someone and he does something nice for you, you think: How wonderful! If you marry him and he doesn’t reach a certain threshold of gift giving, you think: This is all he got me? Seriously?

That’s why I want a “monk’s marriage,” the benefits of being married to a godly woman, but with a monk’s attitude, expecting nothing, depending on God, and so being genuinely grateful for whatever my spouse chooses to bless me with.

* Do you see your attitude as filled with gratitude, or filled with resentment? How would having a “monk’s marriage” improve your relationship with your spouse?

As this day unfolds let’s set aside our expectations and enjoy our spouse for who they are, not what they do.

_________________

Don’t forget about our Romance Your Valentine Contest! For all the info click here!

Posted in Christian Marriage, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Holidays, Valentine's Day | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Physical Intimacy: One Word That Can Change Your Sex Life

Is it possible that one word can hold the power to change your sex life? We believe so. This word not only can change your sex life for the better, but how you see your marriage as a whole. What is this magic word?

Actually it’s not magic at all. It comes from God’s Word.

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Hebrews 13:4 ESV

Honor. It is a word used to show the highest respect and regard. In relation to marriage specifically it means to give our marriage the highest respect and regard it above all other relationships. The question to ask is do we?

Do we honor our spouse by doing what we said we would do? Or have we grown comfortable and apathetic towards each other?

For some couples the topic of sexual intimacy is a hot button that once pushed ignites all kinds of conflict. Over time they just don’t go there anymore. Intimacy occurs only when one finally gives in to the request.

It grieves us to hear it. The one part of marriage that is supposed to provide the deepest level of connection cause the biggest chasm.

We understand. It takes a willingness to be known and a desire to understand each other. It also requires an intentional commitment to get to there. And if one spouse is carrying secret hurts, shame or guilt it complicates matters further. Add to it the inability to communicate why there is a struggle in the first place and you’ve set the stage for failure.

We encourage you to examine your own heart, instead of judging your spouse. See if you are honoring your spouse in the way you think of them, pray for them and encourage them.

Posted in Christian Marriage | 1 Comment

Decluttering Discovery

Memories made as husband and wife are worth remembering.

As we’ve mentioned we are decluttering our house. Every closet, every drawer, every cabinet is being organized and it feels amazing. If clutter were measured in pounds I think we’ve lost at least 100 pounds. Yes!

I must tell you, we made a discovery in our pantry that brought a smile to our faces.

Years ago, actually when we first got married, I collected match books from any restaurant or hotel we visited. I would put the date inside the book and what we were celebrating as a way to document the event. Imagine my delight when I found my collection buried in the back of our pantry behind some hardly used appliances?

There is the matchbook from the Don Cesar Hotel. We stayed there in June of 1979 to celebrate the one year anniversary of our first date. There’s one from Maison et Jardin, the French restaurant that Tom took me to on that first date. So many memories appropriately remembered with matches–used to ignite a fire.

“Keep the fire lit in your marriage, and your life will be filled with warmth.” – Fawn Weaver

This was a inexpensive way to commemorate our celebrations.

Have you ever considered doing something similar? Unfortunately, matchbooks are a thing of the past. But you could collect business cards or take photos. Just be sure to bring them and keep them in a scrapbook with the date and occasion.

Everyday you are writing your story. How much of it is forgotten unless we take the time to record it in some way.

Emotional Intimacy Prompt: Ask your spouse, “What is one thing we have done in the past that still brings you joy when you think of it?” “What is another way we can create joy-filled memories for the future?”

Date Night Idea: What did you do on your first date? Why not recreate it in some way? If your first date wasn’t that memorable, pick one that was.

Father,

Thank you for the years of memories You’ve given us. We pray that our marriage has brought you much joy. Would you help us make wise decisions each day that reveal the priority marriage is above all else? It is for You and Your glory that we ask these things.

In Jesus’ precious name,

Amen

——-

Don’t forget about our Romance Your Valentine Contest! For all the info click here!

Posted in Christian Marriage, Emotional, Growing Strong Marriages, Intimacy, Romance in Marriage, Romantic Ideas | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments