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 , , , , ,

    A Closer Look at What Bores You

    Living life with the same person becomes familiar as it should over time. But when the familiar becomes boring this can be the sign there is something else at play.

    Jon Bloom wrote an excellent article on the Desiring God website titled, Bored To Life. I highly recommend you click over and read it before continuing with this post. I’ll wait here. 😊

    While Mr, Bloom isn’t talking about marriage in his article, it definitely applies.

    He defines boredom as,

    Disinterest. It’s the condition of finding something or someone [spouse] or some subject or task or some event or perhaps most everything uninteresting.

    He goes on to say that “Boredom is not the opposite of busyness; it’s the opposite of interest.”

    This begs the question, what’s your interest level in marriage?

    Do you find reading marriage books boring? Or marriage blogs? Chances are your answer is no on that one since you’re here. But you may be married to someone who would never read a marriage book or blog for that matter. If that’s so, what can you do?

    Marriage is a team effort. If one partner is disengaged it puts the burden of success on the other spouse which can create even more problems.

    May I say if this is your situation, I am concerned for you. Who can you turn to for support while you’re doing most of the work? If you are a Christian your help is only a prayer away. Lean into the Lord and allow Him to give you fresh inspiration on how to love your spouse well while you wait.

    In order to sustain a lasting interest in our spouse and marriage we must be intentional.

    Being intentional means…

    1. To study your spouse and take interest in what they find interesting

    2. To pursue your spouse on ordinary days

    3. To flirt with your spouse

    4. To make time to communicate about what is difficult and stressful in your life right now

    5. To connect every day if it’s only for 15-30 minutes.

    6. To be your spouse’s biggest fan and best encourager so they aren’t looking for it elsewhere.

    7. To keep a short list of offenses. Confession lifts burdens in a way nothing else can

    8. To help your spouse identify the reason they are bored, as Jon Bloom so clearly describes

    9. To have time away without the kids at least once a year

    10. To make friends with other couples who encourage your marriage to grow by the example they provide

    This is just a small start in how to be intentional in marriage. But the effects will be huge as you put them into practice.

    I love the analogy Mr. Bloom provides,

    Think of boredom as a dashboard warning indicator that starts dinging. Something has caused your interest level to run low and it’s draining your joy. What is it?

    I can’t answer that for you, but spending time discussing it with your spouse might open your eyes to the culprit. I pray you are able to heed the warning signs and make the necessary changes. Your marriage is worth it!

    Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Difficulty, Finding Joy, Growing Strong Marriages, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , , , ,

    2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter “O”

    I struggled with planning this date because I wanted to do something different that Tom would enjoy. Of course there are the obvious “O’s” from which one could choose, but like I said I wanted something fun and unique.

    Then I got it the perfect idea and one I was excited to plan–A “007 James Bond Date”

    I sent Tom the following meme

    Our date began by going to 007’s boss, “M”. We have a local venue, M Bar, with a display of exotic cars (a staple in all 007 films)…

    …and free video games. Can’t beat that price! 😊

    We enjoyed an appetizer of Olives and drinks while we played. (Tom won both rounds!)

    From there we came home to enjoy 007’s favorite fOOd: Scrambled eggs, sausage and toast with jam. (Who knew?)

    I played a selection of James Bond soundtracks while we tried to recall as many of the 25 James Bond films we could. See how many you can remember.

    We ended the night by watching the latest movie released, Spectre.

    I knew Tom was going to enjoy this date when he sent me this GIF in response to my invitation:

    We both agree this date was “O” so gOOd!

    Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Dating Your Spouse | Tagged , ,

    My Marriage Is Mediocre—Now What?

    In our last post we shared 11 possible indicators your marriage might be mediocre. Today we want to offer some practical tips to help get you out of this trap.

    As a reminder here is our list:

    1. Your life revolves around your kids.
    2. You no longer flirt with each other or share private jokes.
    3. You would rather spend an evening alone than with your spouse.
    4. You can’t remember the last time you laughed together.
    5. You rarely go on dates or have fun together.
    6. You haven’t read any books on marriage recently and you have no desire to start.
    7. The first word that comes to mind in describing your marriage is “boring”.
    8. Time together is spent watching TV, running errands or doing things with the kids.
    9. Sex is sporadic at best.
    10. You’ve settled into believing this is just how marriage is after years of sharing life with someone.
    11. You believe your best days are behind you.

    Practical Tips To Get Out Of The Mediocre Trap

    If your life is busy with activities for your kids, this is a normal part of raising a family. However, you don’t have to sign them up for every activity they want to pursue. In our family we limited our kids to one activity a year, and they had to choose. This was teaching them the importance of making priorities in their schedule. Of course, they didn’t like it. But in order for Tom and me to keep our relationship primary we had to limit the time we were doing other things.

    If you no longer flirt, but you used to, it will be easier for you to start this again. If you have never flirted with each other this will feel really awkward. Little steps in showing your spouse you are thinking of them as you walk by each other. Where one wife might run her hand across her husband’s butt as she passes him, another might express something you admire in him. You set the next level of flirtation according to what would mean the most to the both of you.

    If you don’t enjoy being alone with your spouse, there are issues beyond mediocrity that must be addressed. We encourage you to seek outside help from a friend or pastor if bringing up this discussion seems too difficult. The important thing is to not ignore it! If you do your marriage will suffer for it.

    If you don’t laugh regularly ask yourself why? Is it because you don’t find things funny? Or maybe you just haven’t tried to make it happen. My daughter-in-love shared with me this story: Her grandmother, who lived well beyond her 90th birthday, said her secret for long life was finding a way to laugh really hard everyday. Some days she would just belt out a good laugh for no reason. Ashley said the amazing thing was she always made everyone else around her laugh too. Even if they had no idea what started it all.

    If you rarely go on dates or have fun together, make an effort to change. Plan something special you know your spouse will enjoy and surprise them with it. We have a made it a habit to study each other to know what each other likes and then take it to the next level and make it happen.

    If you haven’t read a good marriage book in as long as you can remember, can we strongly encourage you to do so? We recommend two: Cherish, by Gary Thomas and our book, Cherishing Us – 365 Healthy Marriage Tips to Help Your Marriage Grow. Both are easy to read and even more easy to apply. Sometimes growth doesn’t happen because we aren’t challenging our habits with the truth. Think of marriage books as a vitamin to promote health and avoid sickness.

    If your marriage is boring, refer to #5.

    If the only time you spend together is in the car going somewhere or on the couch watching TV you must make a concerted effort to change. Not only is this bad for your marriage, it is setting a poor example for your children who are watching more than you realize. Limit electronic device use as well.

    If your sex life is sporadic at best, you most likely have other issues to discuss. Sex is the only activity your spouse alone can supply, and to limit this precious gift is a detriment to the intimacy you share. I understand there can be a boat-load of issues preventing the frequency and quality of sex. But are you doing anything about it? If not, you are settling for less than God intends for you both to experience. Please don’t put physical intimacy on the shelf of “what used to be”. Get help! We recommend another book, Sheet Music, by Kevin Leman, to help you discover what’s missing.

    If you realize you’ve indeed settled, that’s the first step to change. You’re admitting that there can be more. And I say as loudly as I can–YES, there is more, so much more.

    If you believe your best days are behind you, you are listening to the enemy of your soul. He has come to steal, kill and destroy, and that includes our marriages. He hates our union because it reflects Christ and His overwhelming love for His Bride, the church. Your best days are not behind you, unless you read this post and do nothing as a result. God has given us the power we need to resist the lies and schemes of the enemy. We must draw near and submit to God, resist the enemy and he must flee. I believe as you do this you are opening a new door into a new room in your marriage called fulfilled. God wants to fulfill His purposes for you and your marriage. Our responsibility is to cooperate with Him. When He convicts, we repent. As He leads, we follow. When we change, He gets the glory. How can we say no to such a gracious, loving God.

  • Father,
  • I pray for every person who will read this post today. Stir the waters of mediocrity and fill them with fresh faith to believe that change is possible. Do this for their joy. Do this for the example they are setting for their children. And do this for all who know them.
  • Make all of our marriages what You intend them to be, and may we cooperate fully with You every step of the way.
  • In Jesus’ precious name,
  • Amen
  • Posted in Boredom, Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , , , , , ,

    11 Possible Indicators You Have A Mediocre Marriage

    MEDIOCRE. Just the sound of it is blah, don’t you think? I looked up the definition and found this interesting…

    One of the things that is remarkable about mediocre is the extent to which it has retained its meaning over the course of more than four centuries of continual use. The word, when used as an adjective, has changed very little, if at all, in its meaning since it was used in a 1586 book titled The English Secretorie. (From Merriam-Webster’s on-line dictionary)

    Look at the synonyms. They offer deeper insight into the understanding of this centuries old word.

    The question is, “Does mediocre describe your marriage?

    I find it interesting that those who are experiencing mediocre marriages tend to settle into it as their norm, in the same way the word has settled into its own definition without change for centuries.

    What does a mediocre marriage look like?

    I’m certainly no expert, but we have had almost 40 years of experience in our marriage. And we have known lots of couples with great marriages as well as mediocre ones.

    11 (Possible) Indicators of a Mediocre Marriage

    1. Your life revolves around your kids.
    2. You no longer flirt with each other or share private jokes.
    3. You would rather spend an evening alone than with your spouse.
    4. You can’t remember the last time you laughed together.
    5. You rarely go on dates or have fun together.
    6. You haven’t read any books on marriage recently and you have no desire to start.
    7. The first word that comes to mind in describing your marriage is “boring”.
    8. Time together is spent watching TV, running errands or doing things with the kids.
    9. Sex is sporadic at best.
    10. You’ve settled into believing this is just how marriage is after years of sharing life with someone.
    11. You believe your best days are behind you.

    Do any of these hit home? 

    If you chose more than one it reveals you have work to do in your relationship. Our desire is to convince you that this doesn’t have to be your norm. You can have a marriage that is growing and changing for the better as each year passes.

    The start of making any change in your marriage is seeing the areas in need of change in the first place!

    Begin by talking about these 11 indicators together and pray for God to help you. He loves such prayers and is able to accomplish that which seems impossible to us. I pray this brings you hope.

    We’ll discuss some practical tips in our next post. Until then…

    “Don’t settle for mediocrity. Take a chance. Take a risk. Find that passion. Rekindle it. Fall in love all over again. It’s really worth it.” Brian Cranston

    Posted in Boredom, Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Priorities, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , ,

    Romantic Graphic for July

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    Marriage Markers to See and Follow

    Tom and I visited Sequoia National Park several years ago. We decided to hike a trail through the giant trees. We were encouraged to try a shorter trail requiring little experience. As we headed out we found one that said it would only take 2.5 hours to complete. Since it was already well past lunch, we thought this would be a safe hike for us.

    Assumptions are never good.

    We discovered the markers on this trail aren’t normal signs saying, “halfway mark”, “almost there” or “1 mile to go!” They were natural markers like a Sequoia tree known as “Fallen Giant”.  We saw several fallen trees so we assumed we had missed it. It had already been 3 hours since we started, so we figured we would soon emerge from the dense forest. (Did I mention that we had no cell signal? No one knew which trail we were on. We had no knife or tools, and it was standard daylight time, meaning the sun set close to 6:00pm.)

    Imagine our dilemma when we came to the now infamous, “Fallen Giant”. This meant we were only halfway on this loop that was supposed to take only 2.5 hours to complete! We only had a water bottle half full and one apple to sustain us. This would have been fine, IF the hike had been what we expected. But it wasn’t.

    I tell this story to emphasize the importance of leaving good trail markers. What seems a good marker to one may be completely missed by another.

    In our last post I shared…

    We are marking a similar trail of our own; a marriage trail. It is marked by trials and sacrifice, along with a willingness to keep our vows when the feelings wane.

    Think of our vows we use as markers along the trail of our hike together through this life. We remember and cling to them when needed:

    • For better or worse. Remember this when your spouse sins against you. This helps you remember how much you have been forgiven allowing you to forgive too.
    • For richer or poorer. When you find out your job is downsizing and you live paycheck to paycheck. Knowing your spouse is not going to bail on you brings a comfort that you won’t walk this path alone.
    • In sickness and in health. When you get a difficult diagnosis completely rocking your world. Cling to the fact that your spouse will be there to support, help and pray for you like no one else.
    • To love and to cherish. When you grow old together, you still have one another to love and cherish until the Lord calls one of you home.

    These markers help us as we set out on this hike for the first time. But it helps to have someone else who knows the way, who can tell you by experience that this trail is right for you.

    Each step forward you are proclaiming, “I still do!” And your children and grandchildren can follow your lead without fear. There will be fallen giants of trials and hardship along the way. Take comfort that they will tell the story of God’s faithfulness to you. This brings Him the glory He deserves! Don’t push these markers aside as mistakes. Leave them to proclaim what God has done in spite of the trials. This is your marriage trail marked by one trial after another. Make it one others want to follow.

    Yet, you might want to provide more than a half-filled water bottle and apple along the way.

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    Posted in Christian Marriage, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, The Gospel & Marriage, Wisdom in Marriage | Tagged , , ,

    2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter “N”

    This date was simple, but stands out as a favorite!

    Tom went with a “New York” theme starting with NEW YORK STRIP steaks cooked perfectly on the grill. 😊

    I made a playlist on our Amazon Prime Music account of NEW YORK themed songs to play as we enjoyed our dinner. It put us in a New York State of Mind, for sure!

    After dinner we had front row seats to a Broadway production of NEWSIES now showing on NETFLIX. It was better than the movie, imho, and felt like we were a part of the audience yet in our own living room.

    It was a relaxing night spent with my best friend, which is the point of date nights, right?

    We ended the night taking a walk around the block under the NIGHT sky. It was an added bonus when we saw this…

    Until next time, Enjoy this video…

    Happy Dating!

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

    2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter “M”

    One of my photos from the challenge

    It was my turn to plan a date. We drove to the mall where we took an hour to do our 10.5.1 Mall Date. We hadn’t done this in a few years, so it felt fresh.

    The idea is to take $10 each and over an hour shop for something for your spouse that you know they will love. You can’t spend over the $10 and can only have change left. (As an added twist you could have a prize for the one who gets closest to $10. I wish I had thought of this sooner, since I beat Tom by 10 cents.) 😊

    Also during your shopping spree you must take five photos that convey a message to your spouse.

    One of Tom’s photos for me. 😂

    Once the hour is up meet at the food court or the coffee shop to exchange your gifts and share photos.

    We had an absolute blast this time and it was nice to have such a diversion. The best part about this date is it makes you focus solely on blessing each other. It is a great way to disconnect from the busyness of life.

    After our MALL date we went to the MOVIE theater to see Solo, a Star Wars Story, based on the early years of Hans Solo.

    This marks the halfway point of our challenge and I’m sure of one thing:

    Dates are an important aspect of a healthy marriage for it feeds our friendship.

    Until next time, Happy Dating! ❤️

    Posted in Christian Marriage

    Where Will This Trail Lead?

    Summer. The time when many of us plan family vacations to see places we’ve not seen before. I know some friends who have made it their goal to visit every National Park in America, and so far they’ve made it to many.

    This year marks the 50th anniversary of our nation’s historic hiking trails that were established by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 as a way to follow the paths of our ancestors. From the California Gold Rush days of the 1800’s, to the Lewis and Clark trail to discover a path to the Pacific Ocean, to the path of freedom Martin Luther King, Jr. forged in the 60’s; all are meant to help us recount, retrace and reflect on how far we’ve come as a nation.

    I love such history for it allows us to remember the faithfulness of God in all sorts of circumstances. Being able to walk the steps of those who have gone before us is a privilege we should not take lightly. Each step was marked by sacrifice and a willingness to face danger and hardship for the good of those following behind.

    We are marking a similar trail of our own. It’s a marriage trail, and it too, is marked by sacrifice and a willingness to keep our vows when the feelings wane.

    We take each step in faith believing that God is leading us in our one-flesh nature to become more like His Son. Jesus Christ. It is a path to freedom, like Dr. King forged, but not from persecution; it is from the obligation to serve and exalt self above others. It is a trail that we hope those coming behind us will follow and enjoy.

    My grandparents on both sides made it to their Golden Anniversary, as did my parents. My sister and her husband are only 5 years from this milestone, and my brother and his wife were married in 1979 like us. Our 40th anniversaries are next year.

    I know much of our family’s history and record some of it in my book, Through The Eyes Of Grace. What I don’t know is how much of their commitment to their marriage vows has shaped my own conviction to keep ours.

    We may not all write a book or keep journals chronicling our journey as husband and wife, but we do leave markers along the way. I’ll delve more into this idea in my next post.

    Until then, “Happy trails to you” as my Dad would often sing.

    Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Seasons of Life, Wisdom in Marriage | Tagged , , ,

    The Gate of Sexual Intimacy

    Fences provide needed protection and privacy. They act as a deterrent to would-be burglars, and provide privacy to our property.

    After Hurricane Irma last fall, our 15 year old wooden fence was in serious need of replacement. We are grateful our insurance company covered the cost allowing us to have a new one installed last month, and we love it! We hadn’t realized how much privacy we had lost by our dilapidated fence. We have a gate that works well now too. It stays shut when it’s supposed to and opens easily when unlocked.

    Gates are meant to work. When they don’t it’s not only a deterrent to the bad, but also the good.

    There is a similar application to a gate found in all marriages–the gate to sexual intimacy. This gate leads to the private backyard of the marital union where only the husband and wife can see and enjoy. It is good when it works well, but sadly many marriages suffer from over-zealous gatekeepers.

    You may have heard the term “gatekeeping” in regard to sexual intimacy in marriage. It is when one spouse chooses when the gate of sexual intimacy is opened for the other. It can be earned as a reward for proper behavior or closed and locked as a punishment. In either case, gatekeeping is wrong. We do not have the right to dictate to our spouse when they are or are not given access to sexual intimacy.

    1 Corinthians 7:3-5 says,

    3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.
    4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.
    5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

    We have found gatekeeping is often the result of a deeper problem.

    We want to introduce you to Chris Taylor of The Forgiven Wife blog. She honestly shares her journey from being a gatekeeper to being an available and loving wife to her husband. She shares how bringing shame and secrets into the marriage kept her from being open and vulnerable with her husband to the detriment of their relationship.

    I was wrong to dismiss the importance of sexual intimacy in our marriage. Once I realized that we were having problems and that sex had become a source of tension, I should have pursued healing. Instead, I let the hurt fester for far too long.

    Although my journey began as an effort to do something for my husband, it became a transformation for me. I have grown in my relationship with God as well as my relationship with my husband. I’ve learned to embrace my sexuality, too–and not just for my husband’s sake.

    We encourage you to visit her blog and hear more of her story. It will inspire you as it has countless others. (If you are in an abusive marriage, this scripture in no way implies you are to endure such suffering. Seek counsel for the health of your marriage and your safety!)

    Then, there are wives who find themselves as sexual gatekeepers when they said they would never do that. This brings added guilt and shame to the issue. J, with Hot, Holy and Humorous blog shares a very helpful post from a reader’s question.

    I Want To Stop Gatekeeping, But How?

    If you are in this place, it can feel like you’ll never change, or you may not want to change. I appeal to both; God is in the business of making possible what is impossible in our own strength. Seek Him, and ask Him to lead you.

    If you would like further help, please comment or email us. There is a way out, and sometimes all it takes is admitting there is a problem and asking God to help you change.

    “The mandrakes give off a fragrance, And at our gates are pleasant fruits, All manner, new and old, Which I have laid up for you, my beloved.”   – Song of Songs 7:13 NKJV

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    Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Sexual Intimacy, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

    Local Date Night Gems – Datin’ At The Crepevine

    All photos by Bonnie Anderson

    Today’s post is by a close friend and fellow blogger, Bonnie Anderson. We were talking recently about a great place she and her husband discovered that I had never been to. I asked if she would share her experience with you in our Local Gems series. You can follow her blog at Life on the Lighter Side where she’ll help you find humor in everyday moments. She’s also recently published a book, Always Look For The Magic, available in Kindle form for FREE through today.

    I typically don’t blog about food unless it’s M&Ms. I also am not the person you go to for date night advice. But today, for one post only, I’m both of those things. This is evidence that my friend and fellow blogger, Debi Walter, is rubbing off on me. I have often asked her for date night ideas or even asked her to have us over for dinner as she is an excellent cook. That said, while I’m waiting for Debi to invite us over again, I am going to share a great Orlando area date night destination with you.

    A few years ago, my husband Bob and I traveled to Paris. It was everything I hoped it would be and more! The city of lights really delivers. One of my favorite days was when we went to the Eiffel Tower and stopped at a street vendor for crepes. Magnifique! I can close my eyes and still taste the creamy Nutella and banana wrapped in a sumptuous crepe. It was all the better as we sat on a bench along the Seine and watched the Eiffel Tower shimmer with light.

    I have tried to recreate this at home, but I don’t need to trouble myself any longer.

    We have discovered The Crepevine right here in Altamonte Springs, Florida (just outside of Orlando).

    Bob and I happened in for breakfast last month as we celebrated my birthday by eating out as much as humanly possible. Saturday morning as we headed to a usual place, my eye caught a glimpse of their sign and we diverted our path to try something different.

    The atmosphere is minimalistic – very clean lines and nothing fancy. They don’t have an Eiffel Tower or even an Arc de Triomphe, but they have crepes. Yes, they have crepes.

    Bob ordered an egg breakfast crepe that was delicious. The crepe was perfectly thin, but it held together well. The portion was large.

    I almost ordered something similar until I noticed the sweet crepes. I closed my eyes and clicked my heels together repeating three times, “Be a crepe like in Paris,” and it worked. I was transported to France. It was just like being in Paris (minus the Eiffel Tower). These people know how to make a crepe, and they are very friendly, too.

    I hope you’ll give it a try sometime soon. If it’s on a Saturday, you can look for me and Bob savoring our crepes in the corner booth, unless it’s a cool day, then we’ll have to eat alfresco, just like in Paris. (They also have a children’s menu.)

    The Crepevine is located at 249 West SR 436 in Altamonte Springs, Florida, in the IDC Plaza. You can find them on the web at www.thecrepevine.com.

    Bon Appetit!

    Posted in Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Daytime Dates, Local Date Night Gems, Local Gems, Orlando Date Ideas, Romantic Orlando | Tagged , , , , ,

    Is Your View Of Marriage Too Small?

    If you are a parent you know the challenge it is getting your child to see the big picture of why they do things.

    I remember asking my children to pick up their room cluttered with every toy from their closet, only to return an hour later to see it pretty much in the same disarray. When challenged on their disobedience they would defend themselves saying, “What? I picked up the Legos!” They missed the big picture of the need at hand.

    We can do this in Marriage. What is the big picture of our relationship?

    As Christians it is to glorify Christ and treat our spouse with regard to His standard, not ours. This is a high calling that requires not only our full attention, but also our full participation. It doesn’t take just an hour a day, but a lifetime commitment!

    Tim Challies has an excellent article titled, Forget About Marriage For A Minute, I highly recommend to help you focus on what’s of most importance. He says…

    We crave love and long to both extend and receive it. It is the subject of our favorite films, the theme of our treasured poems, the thrill of our happy hearts. Yet for all the love we see and experience, there is one much greater than them all. While we find it in a passage of the Bible that describes the relationship of a husband and wife, it points us to a love that is even deeper, even greater, and even more thrilling. Ephesians 5 tells a husband he must love his wife as Jesus Christ loves his church. So let’s forget about marriage for a minute and reflect simply on how we are loved by our great Savior. (Continue reading)

    • How often do we forget how we are loved by our Savior?
    • How often do we focus on the day to day needs of our spouse and family -those things that come easy to us-yet miss growing in our willingness to put our desires and agendas aside for theirs.
    • How often do we neglect what’s needful to do only what we feel like doing?

    I’m not talking about a one-sided giving here. If one spouse is demanding and the other giving under coercion, this is not as God intended. It is selfish, lustful and full of abuse. I recommend another great article by Darcy Strickland with CCEF. She also covers this aspect of missing the bigger picture in Marriage well. It is titled, Sexual Abuse In Marriage, and is part one of a three part series. She shares…

    God created marriage to be something beautiful and sacrificial in which the hearts and bodies of a man and woman are united as one. Sex is supposed to be a culmination of this emotional and spiritual relationship expressing unity, peace, and love (Gen. 2:24; Prov. 5:18-19; Song. 7:6-12). Given this foundation, the possibility that marriage could be a place where sexual abuse or violence occurs is almost unthinkable. But sadly, it does happen—and with surprising frequency.

    How is your big picture view? Are you Cherishing your husband/wife with the love you’ve received from Christ? Or have you been concentrating on Legos alone missing what’s needed most? Or worse, have you been deceived into thinking marriage is all about your needs and desires to the neglect of giving your spouse what they need and desire as Christ has freely given to you?

    No one can make your marriage better but you and your spouse. And it gets better as we allow the Gospel to effect change in our own heart for His glory, one mess at a time.

    Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Sexual Intimacy, The Gospel & Marriage | Tagged , , , , ,

    Vintage Post – Sizzlin’ Summer Dates

    Originally posted June 16, 2010

    When the heat is on, our dates can be challenging.  We love spending time outdoors, but when the mercury climbs over 90 degrees it certainly puts a damper on those plans.  This is why we’ve come up with a list of Summer

    Sizzlin’ Date Ideas:

    1.  Squirt Gun Challenge. Make two T-Shirts using fabric markers or paints that have several circles with different point values.  Stand outside, 10 ft. apart and each take turns shooting at the others targets.  Keep score…and who knows the loser just might be the winner!  We guarantee the husbands will have more fun seeing where they hit or miss!  This is a cool game that adds heat of a different kind!

    2.  Take a cold shower together.

    3.  Go out for Ice Cream or share a Banana Split. Check out The Glass Knife in Winter Park. They are introducing a new Doughnutt Banana Split today in honor of National Donut Day–perfect for a sweet date.

    4.  Visit a water park together for the afternoon or entire day! Or have a water balloon fight.

    5.  Watch a Winter Movie like:  Dr. Zhivago, White Christmas, Happy Feet, Cool Runnings. (Can you think of others to add to the list?  Let us know by commenting!)

    6.  Go to the beach and build a sand castle together. Afterward jump in the water with your knight in shining armor!  Land locked?  Go to the nearest lake or springs!   If you can’t make it to the waterfront, HERE are directions for making a sand castle at home you can keep.

    7.  Take a walk in the rain with an umbrella.

    8.  Pack a cold picnic. Think of cold salads, fruit, and desserts – even drinks that are sure to cool you off.  As an added refreshment – pack a hand towel in ice water.  Take it out and wrap it around your spouse’s neck.

    9.  Rooftop Date. Have you ever viewed the sky from the top of your roof?  Why not plan an evening, literally “Under The Stars”.  To introduce your date idea, send your spouse this You Tube video of Carole King’s, Up On The Roof.

    10.  Go Skinny Dipping. We realize this can only happen in a place where you feel safe, but with a little planning you could make this happen.  It’s a sure way to cool off and heat up at the same time!  The best kind of Summer Sizzlin’ Date!

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    Posted in Christian Marriage | 2 Comments

    Stay Cool This Summer With These 7 Hot Date Ideas

    Ah, Summer.

    The time to venture outside into the sunshine and warmth of longer days. Unless…

    …you live in Florida.

    Summer here is humid…

                                            sticky and…

                                                                hot.

    The only way to enjoy this season is on or in the water. Thankfully we have air conditioning which makes the scorching heat bearable.

    All the great ideas found in Summer magazines don’t really work for us. We have to adapt to our environment and make the best of it.

    When it’s too hot outside try these cool dates:

    1. Indoor Picnic – Set up your blanket and picnic basket on your living room floor. Prepare a gourmet lunch or your favorite sandwiches and settle down together for an indoor memory. Put on a Netflix documentary about a desired travel destination and enjoy your relaxing time together dreaming of the cooler weather.
    2. Boat, Canoe or Kayak Rentals
    3. Take Paddle Board or Surfing lessons
    4. Go fishing
    5. Play the tourist and visit a local museum or art gallery.
    6. Visit a Hotel Spas for an afternoon at the pool. If the budget allows throw in a couples massage.
    7. Try our Mall 10-5-1 Date. This is one of my favorites on a hot or rainy day.

    The important thing to remember is our marriages are priority no matter the weather conditions.

    If we’re not careful our good intentions can take a back seat to convenience.

    Don’t let this happen by planning ahead. Your marriage is worth it!

    Posted in Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Summer Date Ideas | Tagged ,

    2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter “L”

    Our date began with a delicious LOBSTER dinner that Tom grilled for us. I normally prefer crab legs to lobster, but this 1.5 lb. lobster tail was cooked to perfection.

    Next, we set up our LIVING room for a night of dance LESSONS. Having been to many weddings where we basically rocked our way across the dance floor, it was fun to LEARN some new steps to try the next time we have the chance to put on our dancing shoes.

    We finished the evening watching reruns of Whose LINE Is It, which provided some much needed LAUGHTER.

    What would be your perfect “L” Date Night?

    Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Christian Marriage, D.R.A.B., Date Night Ideas, Dating Your Spouse | Tagged , , , ,