Is Your Marriage Like This?

It seems more and more couples are sharing with us the current lack of health in their marriage. We can see the pain and disappointment in their eyes. It grieves us because we know this is not how marriage is supposed to be. God intended marriage to be the one relationship we could count on in this life to allow us a safe place to grow and mature.

Why is marriage so difficult if it’s supposed to be so good?

The answer is simple–we aren’t perfect, our spouse isn’t either! But our differences are intended to help strengthen us not tear us apart.

Most couples are opposites on every level. You may share common interests, but most likely the way you go about doing things is completely opposite.

Tom and I have learned to laugh at how opposite we are. For example, we are getting ready to make deliveries to different counties in our state. As we were discussing the route we would take, it was no surprise that Tom imagined us covering the counties in a North to South pattern. I had envisioned us going East to West! It’s this way with nearly every decision we make or task we complete.

If we don’t communicate about our differences these lighthearted disagreements can become full-blown irritations. I know because we have been there many times, I’m sorry to say!

How is your marriage in regard to:

  1. Your finances?
  2. Your communication?
  3. Your parenting?
  4. Your schedules?
  5. Your goals?
  6. Your intimacy?
  7. Your priorities?

If any of the above caused your eyes to roll or your heart to sink, please seek help! Even if you’re committed to a life-long marriage, don’t settle for mediocrity. Pursue the best marriage God designed for you for the sake of your growth as a couple, for the sake of your children and most of all for the example your marriage is to the watching world.

If you’re not sure how to begin, please feel free to contact us with your questions. We will do our best to point you in the right direction. This time I’m quite sure Tom and I will be in agreement. It’s one area where we really do think alike! And I thank God for that!

Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Keeping It Real, Perspective in Marriage, Priorities | Tagged , ,

2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter “T”

We are a bit behind on our monthly date challenge, but that hasn’t deterred us from pressing on.

Tom, who happens to be my favorite “T” planned a special afternoon TEA for me at a local TEA shop.

I am currently eating GF and this tea provided a GF option for my portion.

On our way to TEA we had a little TIF that TEMPTED us to distance ourselves from each other. Do you do this? Rather than lean in and work out the struggle, you look the other way and stew in your anger?

It takes will power and determination to lean in when the TENSIONS rise.

Gratefully, we have learned the benefit it is to make ourselves do this, for the good of our marriage and to “Save The Date”, so to speak. 😊 Tom shared how something I said effected him. I realized I was wrong and we were able to TALK it out and reach understanding. That’s what most conflicts are–a misunderstanding in what we heard our spouse say.

To TOP it off–the tea wasn’t that good. We were glad we got it on Groupon which made it not as expensive.

Sometimes a date is a hit,and sometimes a date is a TEST.

I think we passed this one but sadly, the TEA left much to be desired.

What dates have failed for you and how did you respond? Did you lean in towards understanding or pull away in anger?

(Funny side note: Our next date is the Letter “U”. I hope we have the understanding part down on this one before we leave the house!)

Happy Dating!

Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Growing Strong Marriages, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments


Today we had our septic tank pumped. It wasn’t long before I was running to close all the windows and fast! The fact that “IT” happens doesn’t make it pleasant or inviting, but it’s necessary.

Our day yesterday was similar, but there wasn’t a pump truck involved. It was our thoughts and words. “IT” happens when we try to communicate through the yuckiness of conflict. “IT” happens when we fail to pause and listen to the burdens our spouse is carrying. Just because we don’t struggle in the same way they do, doesn’t mean their “IT” isn’t just as significant.

Whether your struggle is finances, career changes, relational conflict, or physical pain, having a spouse who draws close to hear your heart is the best remedy. If your spouse is one who instead requires space to process their thoughts—give them the time and space they need without a cold shoulder. Oftentimes it’s the husband who requires more time.

Gary Thomas in his book, Loving Him Well, quotes Michael Gurian, “Neurological studies show that men may take up to seven hours longer than women to process complex emotional data. Think of that: seven hours! Why this delay? Many physiological facts help to explain it: men have a smaller hippocampus in the limbic system (which processes emotional experiences); females have more neural pathways to and from the emotive centers of the brain; and the bundle of nerves that connects the left and right portions of the brain—allowing the processing of thoughts and talk with emotions—is about 25 percent smaller in men than in women.”

Only you know your spouse on this level. Cherishing your spouse requires you to help them process the IT that happens. It may be time to roll up your sleeves and do the necessary work. The health of your marriage depends on it.

(There are couples who don’t fit this generalization. The truths still apply whether it’s the husband or wife who requires more time to process.)

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Have You Ever Asked Your Spouse This?

Yesterday we had lunch with friends and this question came up…

When have you been the most afraid?

It was a good question that led to an hour-long discussion involving lots of emotion. Some had had near-death experiences involving themselves or a child. I shared a couple–one was, like theirs, where I was fearful for my life. The other is the one I’d like to share with you.

It was the week of our wedding, and I didn’t know how ill prepared I was for our life together. You see no one had taken the time to prepare me for sexual intimacy with my husband. The anticipation of the big day was more than I could bear. My stress showed itself by the acne on my face. I had never struggled with this until my anxiety reached it’s max. I was nervous, afraid and embarrassed at how I looked. But there was nothing I could do, but trust God to lead me through the wedding.

And He did.

My husband understood my reluctance and didn’t push me. He cared for me patiently and helped me overcome my inhibitions. I knew after our first night together that my husband was exactly who I had hoped he’d was. Because of his care I felt safe to be myself and share my struggles. He listened and we talked.

Thankfully, I had no abuse or shame in my history causing my reluctance. My fear was due to the unknown. Once I discovered how our sexual intimacy was an overflow of our emotional intimacy, it seemed natural to express my physical love to him.

I realize that sexual intimacy can open the door to a lot of past pain. Having a spouse who is willing to listen, understand and lead you through the struggle makes all the difference.

I’m grateful that the only thing I really had to fear was the fear itself. Once I faced it, the fear dissipated.

What is the most afraid your spouse has ever been? If you don’t know take time to ask, and then listen to their heart. This is an open door to deeper intimacy.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Intimacy, Newlyweds, Seasons of Life, Sexual Intimacy | Tagged , , ,

Vintage Post – Clinging Vines

Originally posted on 8.10.10

The Clinging Vine

The image was clear the minute I read the sign, “The Clinging Vine”.  It was one of those signs where a business sponsors a certain section of road in order to keep it clean from trash. It was probably the name of a business who had paid for this particular road sign in an effort to draw people to their store.  It drew me – that’s for sure, but not to them.

Two memories quickly surfaced in my mind:

Tom and I just returned from a week in North Carolina.  He was on business; I went for a writing retreat.  As we drove the interstate we noticed a vine that had spread across all the trees on both sides of the road.  It was so dense you couldn’t see the forest because of it, only the outlines letting you know they were still there. At first it seemed beautiful because it was so green, but then I realized I couldn’t see what type of trees they were clinging to.  I didn’t like the fact it was taking over the landscape, hiding from view the native trees.

Photo credit: Star, Simplified blog

The Supported Vine

Contrast this picture with another trip we made several years ago to Napa Valley, California.  It was our first time to see a vineyard, and I wasn’t expecting what I discovered.  There in the field, in neat rows were crosses.  The trunk of the vines revealed their age – they were thick and sturdy.  The vines themselves clung to the wires branching to the right and left making what looked like a cross.  It was magnificent in it’s simplicity and consistency.  Each vine looked the same – beautiful!

Photo credit: Vineyard and Orchards

I share these two pictures because they are metaphors of our marriage.  The first picture is a vine that has no strong support of its own; it must latch onto trees to gain height or crawl along on the ground.  It suffocates.   If continually climbed upon by the vine, mature trees will eventually die for lack of air and sun.  We can be this type of vine to our spouse, clinging to them for our support and strength; we can be demanding, overbearing and in essence suffocating.

In the vineyard the metaphor is one worth emulating.  We have been grafted into the vine of Christ.  He is the one we cling to, and He provides strong support.  He can carry us when life takes us one way and then another.  Regardless of where we go or what season we are facing, this vine has stood the test of thousands of years.  His trunk is strong and secure.  When we step back to admire marriages of this kind, what we see isn’t the vine, but the cross. He is the reason our marriages succeed and bear fruit.

We are all clinging vines – the question is – to whom are you clinging? 

  • Clinging to our spouse will not produce fruit that will last.  It will suffocate the love God intended us to share and leave us gasping for help in great need.
  • Clinging to Christ will provide rich nourishment and strength in our marriage allowing us to produce fruit that will remain.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5 (ESV)

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

5 Women – 1 Marriage – And Now This!

Our Engagement Photo circa 1978

My husband shares often that he has been married to five different women, but only one marriage. People always look baffled and/or shocked when he says this. But it’s true. What he means is that over the course of our marriage I have changed and it has been an adjustment for him to get to know the new me. 

What Caused The Changes?

  1. I changed when we got married and I moved away from the only town I had ever known including friends and family.
  2. I changed when we had our first baby and had to learn how to juggle being a wife with motherhood.
  3. I changed when I began homeschooling our three children.
  4. I changed when we were dealing with raising teenagers and the intense emotional strain that put on me day in and day out.
  5. I changed when I entered that dreaded season referred to as menopause.

I admit it hasn’t been easy for Tom because he didn’t usually know the changes were coming. Neither did I for that matter, and it has made our relationship challenging in those transitions.

Recently Tom was sharing this story with our Marriage Community Group when I had an “Aha” moment. I realized that Tom hasn’t changed nearly as much as I have. All the above transitions affected me on a greater level because I was the one home with our children 24/7. Tom worked outside of the home providing for our family so I could have the privilege to educate our kids. He had kept the same job for the majority of our marriage, which didn’t cause him to transition as much.

He did change when we bought the company after working there for 16 years. Going from being an employee to an owner of the company brings a whole new set of responsibilities which caused him to change.

But that was really the extent of it. Until now…

Tom retired in April and this has changed him in ways I had no way of anticipating. It is good, but it hasn’t been as easy as we thought it would be. I’ve been home and managing our household for our entire marriage. Now Tom, who has been an excellent manager his entire career, is home too, and in the habit of managing people. Except the only “people” around is ME.  Another transition!

We have had quite a few arguments over silly things like,

  • which knife I’m using and how the bigger knife would work better.
  • How I organize cabinets.
  • When I’m doing the laundry.
  • Why I buy this brand over another brand at the grocery store.
  • Writing vs. talking – I can’t do both at the same time.

None of these things are crucial. They’re preferences. But it has really rocked my world. We have had to communicate often about why this bothers me, and I’ve learned a lot about myself and Tom in the process. We are learning to laugh at ourselves and not take things so seriously.

I’ve even embraced some of Tom’s ideas.

I’m happy to say I’m enjoying using a bigger knife at times, and smile when I choose to use my little one instead . It’s not an important issue, but it has revealed much about our marriage and how we needed to adjust to a new norm. 

Change happens. The big changes can either help us fall in love with who our spouse has become, or it can cause us to become resentful and pull away. I’m grateful we have purposed to lean in and get to know the new spouse to whom we’re married.

It’s a fresh beginning for us after nearly 40 years! Maybe we should plan a honeymoon to get to know the new “retired” us and fall in love once again! But first, I need to finish the laundry…

What transitions have you faced as a couple? Did it draw you closer or pull you apart?

Posted in Christian Marriage

Happy Hour

We haven’t shared some of our favorites in a while. So this week we’re focusing on Fall Date Ideas we’ve come across. Enjoy…

Les and Leslie Parrot

The Romantic Vineyard Vintage Posts

Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Happy Hour, Romance in Marriage

Until Death Parts Us

I am emotional and have often been led astray by them. I’m grateful for the influence my husband has had on me in this area of my life. He has helped me see that my emotions aren’t bad; they are a gift when informed by the truth of God’s Word.

The Bible is full of emotions–joy, sorrow, jubilation and tumult to name a few. God walks with us through all them and points the way to peace. It is with this confidence in God that I can embrace this day even with tears that are sure to come.

Many of you have prayed with us for our dear friend, Craig Stafford, who collapsed one morning in August. He passed away on Saturday, 33 days later, and leaves behind his faithful wife of 20+ years and four children ages 23 – 14.

Today our church will honor him and comfort his family by hosting his celebration of life service. We are expecting over 500 to attend. Craig loved large so his reach of influence is not surprising. He was skilled at rejoicing with those who rejoice and helping those struggling to be encouraged to take the next step. My Facebook feed has exploded with stories of how this man influenced folks everyday. Here are a few quotes…

“Craig could light up a room like nobody else. His smile infectious, his passion contagious, his heart larger than life.”

“Craig bled hospitality everywhere he was! He’d welcome you with a warm smile that makes you feel at home, give you a compliment to boost your self esteem, all while cooking a batch of bacon for you in the kitchen if he could!”

Craig loved to cook. He served and fed us well for many church-wide events. His gift will be sorely missed, but it is his presence we will miss most. Whenever Craig was in the room you knew it. He put a smile on faces seemingly without effort.

Craig and Rowena had a strong marriage, but not without trials and setbacks. It’s the struggles we go through that wields strength. Although this part of their lives has ended, Craig’s legacy continues beyond death. He has left an indelible mark on future generations through the lives of his four children. He loved well.

A dear friend and blogger said the following to comfort his wife, Rowena…

So today I had a moment…

Initially it was sadness, feeling that I can’t imagine Metro Life Church, can’t imagine life on this earth, without Craig in it. To not see his smile, feel his hugs, hear his laughter…How, Lord?

But then, I felt the Lord showed me something…we’ll see Craig’s smile every week in the faces of your precious children, we’ll hear his laugh in them, feel his hugs through them…though Craig has left us…together you and he gave us a gift, four of them, and through each of them, their father lives on. He is woven into the fabric of who they are and now I am so grateful that you had so many of them! 😘

We love you, Rowena Marie Stafford! We love you and admire you and have so much respect for you…because behind these precious children there is You. Your example, your guidance, your teaching, all of the life that you have poured into them this is what makes them the amazing individuals that each one of them is. They have an unbelievable, godly woman for a Mama. I know their Daddy thought so, too!

I pray his example as a husband and father will help us realize the gift it is to be present in the lives of those we love. May our days be marked with a resolve to love each other well until death parts us.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Death and Grieving, Seasons of Life | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter ‘S”

Some letters are easier to plan dates around than others. This one was super easy and always a favorite of ours.


Living near the beach this one is a date we enjoy often, but it doesn’t make it any less special.

We drove to the beach and couldn’t wait to sit and allow the waves to wash away our busyness. It has the ability to clear my mind like nothing else!

We were so relaxed I didn’t take many pictures. Maybe these few photos will give you a moment of needed relaxation from your busyness too.

Happy Dating!

Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Outdoor Dates | Tagged ,

We Have A Winner!

The winner of our Cherish Your Spouse, Giveaway is…Helen!

Congratulations! Please email us your address so we can get these books sent to you right away.

Thank you to all who took the time to intentionally answer this all-important question, “What does Cherish look like to you and to your spouse?”

We pray it will be the beginning of Cherishing your spouse more in the years to come.

Have a blessed weekend, and let’s pray for those facing Hurricane Florence!

Posted in Christian Marriage

Have You Entered Our Giveaway?

We want to give away a Cherish Your Spouse package that includes a copy of Gary Thomas’ book, Cherish, and a copy of our book, Cherishing Us – 365 Healthy Tips from The Romantic Vineyard.

How to enter:

1. Comment what being cherished by your spouse would look like to you. (One entry)

2. Ask your spouse what being cherished by you would look like and share their answer with your comment. (One entry)

3. Share this post on FB, Twitter or Instagram (One entry) Type “shared” on your comment to let us know.

That’s it! We will select the winner from a random drawing this Friday!

God bless you!

Posted in Cherish Your Spouse Giveaway, Cherishing, Christian Marriage | Tagged , ,

A Personal Marriage Designer (and a Cherish Your Spouse Giveaway)i

When Tom and I began The Romantic Vineyard nearly a decade ago (where has the time gone?), we chose the title because we had no better words to describe our passion–romance in marriage. This has been our calling in life for as long as I can remember. And we have done what we can with every opportunity that comes our way.

However, since Gary Thomas’ excellent book, Cherish, was published we now have a new word that more accurately describes our passion–cherish.

What exactly is cherish?

  • It is discovering what it means to your spouse to be loved and valued.
  • It is taking romance to a more personal and meaningful level.
  • It is doing and saying things that mean something to your spouse, to make them feel cherished.
  • This is why it is so vital to a healthy marriage. Your answers can be completely different from ours, and that’s the beauty of cherish. It is personal; like having your very own personal marriage designer. And like a qualified designer it takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary.
  • Cherish helps us make the most of the time we’ve been given together. It brings to the forefront that which is of most importance and allows the trivial to fade to the back.

    Remember those standardized tests we had to take in school that had us compare and choose the right answer?

    Cherish is to romance what conviction is to action.

    We can be busy doing all kinds of things, but if we don’t have a conviction about it they are just items on our to-do list. Conviction takes our actions and gives them purpose and meaning. We realize that there is an important reason we are doing what we do and it matters.

    In the same way we can busy taking care of our spouse and doing things that speak of our love for them, but if we don’t have the mindset to cherish them it can become a well-worn path. Cherish takes our love and gives it meaning and purpose for our spouse. It speaks their language.

    A marriage that lacks cherish is a relationship missing out on the best part of being together. Cherish is the realization that your husband/wife is the only Adam/Eve for you. They are yours from the moment you said “I do” and will be until you take your last breath. It is a privilege we shouldn’t take lightly.

    In what ways do you want to be cherished by your spouse?

    In what ways do they want to be cherished by you?

    If you don’t know, we encourage you to spend some time talking about it and read Gary’s book together. It may help you both discover a dimension in your marriage you didn’t realize was missing. Which brings us to our first giveaway in awhile…

    Cherish Your Spouse Giveaway:

    We want to give away a Cherish Your Spouse package that includes a copy of Gary Thomas’ book, Cherish, and a copy of our book, Cherishing Us – 365 Healthy Tips from The Romantic Vineyard.

    How to enter:

    1. Comment what being cherished by your spouse would look like to you. (One entry)

    2. Ask your spouse what being cherished by you would look like and share their answer with your comment. (One entry)

    3. Share this post on FB, Twitter or Instagram (One entry) Type “shared” on your comment to let us know.

    That’s it! We will select the winner from a random drawing after all entries are received.

    Posted in Cherish Your Spouse Giveaway, Cherishing, Christian Marriage, Contests | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

    2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter “R”

    Tom planned for us to enjoy some R & R on this date, and I must say it was all that and more!

    We went to ROCK Springs for a RIVER tour in a transparent kayak. We RELAXED on the RIVER…at least I did. 😊 Tom did all the rowing while I RESTED. He spoils me like that!

    I’m going to REMEMBER this one for a long time. 😊

    Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Outdoor Dates | Tagged , , , , ,

    A Gift to Avoid Drift

    For my birthday this year Tom has committed to work out with me at home. He went so far and quit his gym membership too, so I knew he was serious. I am excited for this new chapter in our marriage. We are starting to do something together we have done apart or sometimes not at all.

    Gary Thomas shares in his book, Cherish, how important it is for us to lean-in to each other in all seasons of marriage. This may sound simple, but it’s not easy. Especially in our activity driven culture. Our schedules keep us from having time to connect with each other.

    A few minutes to connect with your spouse each day is not adequate for cultivating a lasting marriage.

    It may seem harmless to go different directions and have separate priorities. Especially if what you’re doing is for the good of your family. But one day your children will grow up and live lives of their own. It’s easy to think that day will never arrive, because the days move slow, but the years go fast.

    We often spend more time charging our phones than we do our marriage.

    We  have talked to couples who have different interests. It is difficult to find something they enjoy doing together. Don’t let your preferences keep you apart. If you enjoy reading and your spouse enjoys fishing–do both together. If you like to watch one program on TV and your spouse prefers another, compromise. At least do so a couple of times a week and lean-in to what interests your spouse. Such gestures speak more love to your spouse than words ever could.

    Don’t allow your relationship to drift into being comfortably apart. This is a dangerous drift found in many marriages. We must be intentional if we are to avoid it.

    In what ways are you leaning in to each other to avoid the drift?

    Posted in Boredom, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Keeping It Real, Priorities | Tagged | 2 Comments

    2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter “Q”

    I remember the last time we did the alphabet dates I had the letter “Q” as well. Can I just say I think I should get extra points since this letter is so difficult? But I’m Quite happy to say…

    Tom and I have a library of excellent books we love, but none more so than those by our favorite authors.

    Paul David Tripp – Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands

    Gary Thomas – The Beautiful Fight (as well as Sacred Marriage and Cherish, of course)

    C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity

    Randy Alcorn – Money, Possessions and Eternity

    Andrew Murray – Humility

    God has used these men and their books to impact our lives and marriage in a lasting way. What better way to plan a Quality date than reading aloud some of our favorite Quotes from their books? Following are a few we found…

    “I want to introduce you to a model of personal ministry…it gets its shape from the way Christ brings about change in our lives, and it gets its direction from the biblical call to heart change. Four words represent four aspects of a personal ministry relationship, Love, Know, Speak and Do.” – Paul David Tripp

    “It’s not as if I’m called to find out the will of God and then accomplish it in my own strength. On the contrary, not only does God call me; he also equips me, sustains me, and empowers me. Anything less is a Christ-less Christianity.” – Gary Thomas

    “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” – C.S.Lewis

    “May God teach us that our thoughts and words and feelings concerning our fellow-men are His rest of our humility toward Him.” – Andrew Murray

    These are such rich reminders of the life we are called to live for His glory. It was a relaxing, refreshing and inspiring way to spend a stormy afternoon.

    Who are your favorite authors? Why not share a Quote with us?

    To see what we did on our last “Q” Date click here. 😊

    Happy Dating!

    Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Encouraging Your Spouse, resources | Tagged , , , , ,

    Wake Up Call

    This has been a difficult week for our church family. A dear friend and long time member of our church had a massive heart attack last Tuesday morning. They were just enjoying normal life when this crisis hit them unexpectedly. His wife has been by his side ever since hoping and praying that God will wake him up and heal his body.

    In the meantime we wait.

    This has caused us all to realize several things…

    1. We have no guarantees for tomorrow. Each day we must embrace it as if it were our last. Craig had no idea that as he was cooking his delicious lasagna for his family on Monday night that he wouldn’t enjoy the leftovers with them on Tuesday.
    2. How valuable it is to have a church family to come alongside to help, serve and pray.
    3. The priority it is to pursue relationships even if others aren’t pursuing you. Rowena, (Craig’s Wife), made the comment that she realizes the reason so many are flooding the hospital waiting room in an effort to help and lend support is because of the way Craig pursued and offered help to them–over and over, whether or not it was reciprocated.
    4. Say “yes” to your spouse and children as often as you are able. Craig’s lasagna was made according to special diet restrictions because he loves and cares for his wife. However, when he heard his daughter say how much she was hoping for pasta, he didn’t say, “Sorry, not this time.” Instead, he made a second pan with pasta noodles for his girl.
    5. Make every opportunity to invest in your marriage. Craig and Rowena were a part of our marriage community group last year as we read through Gary Thomas’s excellent book, Cherish. We saw God not only strengthen their marriage, but He also strengthened their relationships with the younger married couples in our church.
  • Won’t you join us in praying for the Stafford family? They are in desperate need of a miracle! #wakeupcraig
  • Posted in Christian Marriage, In Sickness, Keeping It Real, Prayer, Priorities, Seasons of Life | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

    This One Practice Produces Change

    In our last post we talked about the detriment it is to have a condemning spirit towards your spouse. Today we want to talk about the antidote.

    In the Christian life the antidote to a condemning spirit is a grateful heart.

    My husband is a grateful man. He often says with tears in his eyes how grateful he is for all God has done in our lives. And he has even done this when our circumstances were not what he envisioned. Gratefulness isn’t dependent on what you’ve been given, it’s focus is on Who is giving. Christ gave us the most precious gift we could ever receive. No matter our lack in this life, we have all we need forever!

    There is a song out right now by Natalie Grant titled, More Than Anything. The chorus says:

    Help me want the Healer more than the healing

    Help me want the Savior more than the saving

    Help me want the Giver more than the giving

    Help me want You, Jesus, more than anything

    What a powerful song. It begs the question, Do I want the Giver more than the giving?

    Our prayers will often reveal our heart in this matter. If our prayers are filled with requests more than gratefulness, there is a good chance we are leaning away from worshiping God for who He is and desiring more of what He gives.

    A grateful spouse is one who shares verbally the things for which they are grateful.

    And the more specific the better. When Tom tells me he loves me, it warms my heart. But when he elaborates on all the ways he loves me, this makes me melt.

    Let’s purpose to practice gratefulness on a daily basis. To help you, we encourage you to read our book, Cherishing Us – 365 Tips for a Healthy Marriage. It takes intentionality to grow closer together and gratefulness is like pouring fresh water on our efforts. We pray what we’ve written will help you grow in being intentionally grateful.

    Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Growing Strong Marriages, Priorities | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

    Here Comes The Judge

    Our pastor preached on Romans 8 this past Sunday. It was a good reminder of the freedom we have in Christ, and an encouragement to no longer live in condemnation. He said something at the end though, that made me pause and pray to God that this would never be said of me. He said, “May it not be said of us that we have a condemning spirit as we relate to others.”

    A condemning spirit as we relate to others? A condemning spirit in how we relate to our spouse?

    Condemn means to judge or determine to be wrong.

    Have you ever believed yourself to be right and your spouse to be wrong in an argument? If we’re honest we all have felt this way at some point. But what we do with those feelings is crucial to a healthy Marriage.

    We have two choices:

    1. Stand as judge and jury against your spouse set on proving your point at all costs.

    2. Pray for your spouse and for God’s wisdom to help you love them genuinely as you talk through the disagreement.

    Of course the second choice is the best and most God-honoring. But when you’re in the midst of a heated argument it’s probably the last one you’d choose.

    Why is this so? We have an enemy who is set on destroying anything or anyone who glorifies God. Our marriage is a prime target since it is a reflection of how Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her. Also, marriage consists of two sinners, making us an easy target.

    We must not be surprised that he is after our relationship, nor should we be unaware of his schemes to divide us.

    I’ll never forget a time when Tom and I were in a really long season of conflict in our marriage. We tried many times to reconcile but to no avail. One night the Lord impressed this question on my heart, “Who made you the standard of what is right in this situation?”

    My conscience was immediately convicted and I knew I had been acting in a condemning spirit. Ouch! The truth hurts, but it also sets us free!

    I was able to repent to Tom and to God of my sin and it was soon after that we found resolve to our long-standing conflict.

    Matthew 7:3-5 says

    “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

    I’ve heard it said of this scripture that the reason I recognize a sin in someone else’s life is because it is familiar to me. In other words, I have the same sin in my own heart. Realizing this should make all of us hesitant in pointing out our spouse’s sin, or anyone else’s for that matter. I must examine my own heart first, and then from a place of humility and love approach the weaknesses, failures and sins of others.

    Have you ever had a condemning spirit towards your spouse? Or have you ever been the recipient of it? May God help us all grow in our understanding of this and the detriment it is to our growth as believers and as husbands and wives.

    Posted in Christian Marriage, Conflict, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , ,

    Marriage Creed

    We visited a church yesterday while staying with our daughter and her husband in Arkansas. In the lobby they had their creed on display for all to see. It was captivating and encouraged discussion.

    This caused me to consider what Creed we would hang on the wall of our marriage? A good exercise for all of us, I think.

    We love like…

    • Jesus is our model
    • Faith is our foundation
    • Marriage is for life
    • People are watching
    • Children are learning
    • Success depends on me
    • Today is our last
  • What would you include in your marriage creed? We’d love for you to share.
  • Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Growing Strong Marriages, Purpose | Tagged ,

    2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter “P”

    Tom planned something that I love to do on this date–go to a PLAY. This one was The Wiz, one I had not seen before. Being an avid fan of The Wizard of Oz, I was really looking forward to this modern day twist on this classic.

    The actors were good, especially the 9 year old lead, Liamani Segura, who played Dorothy. She was quite literally the star of the show. The director found her by doing a Google search for “a child who can sing”. I am certain we will see more of her as she grows up.

    Liamani has already been on America’s Got Talent, Steve Harvey’s Little Big Shots, and The Ellen Degeneres Show. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and You Tube, if you’d like to learn more about her.

    Before the show Tom took me to one of our favorite restaurants in Banner Elk, Puerto Nuevo. They serve authentic Mexican cuisine that is always fantastic.

    Once again Tom blessed me by his thoughtful planning. He knows me well, and I am grateful.

    Until next time, enjoy this video by Liamani as she sings the finale from The Wiz. You will be amazed that she is only 9 years old.

    Happy Dating!

    Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas | Tagged , , , , ,