Five Friday Favorites – Keeping It Real

Normally these posts are lighthearted. We share with you some of our favorite moments or things we love. But today my heart is heavy for those facing extremely challenging circumstances–terminal illness, job loss, rebellious children, chronic pain. All of these seasons are difficult to walk through even in a strong marriage. But all of us have faced them.

Today we want to share with you our Five Most Challenging Times not in any particular order.

1. Miscarriage – Our first pregnancy was exciting. So exciting we told the world as soon as we found out. I was only 6 weeks into the pregnancy when I miscarried. We were out of town on business and I had to call Tom out of his meeting to come get me. It was terrifying for us to walk through such loss. But God showed us how deep our love was for each other. We learned more about ourselves in that season, and we were sobered about how fragile life is. We realized that not all dreams become realities. I was hit hard with the question, “Will I be able to have children?” And the haunting fear that came with it. God taught us how His Word informs our heartache and that is where hope is found in great loss.

2. Moving to a new city – Tom lived 2.5 hours away from me while we dated. After we were married I move away from my family and the only city I had ever known to live with my new husband. No job. No friends. No church family and no history. I felt disconnected because I was. Add to that the fact that Tom worked 70 – 80 hours a week. I was alone and lonely most of the time. I learned that anytime someone relocates to a new city it takes about 2 years to feel like it is home. Fortunately we didn’t have that long to adjust. Tom was transferred to another new city. It wasn’t until we had been married a year and a half that we moved back to my hometown. We have called Orlando home ever since.

3. Realizing your spouse isn’t perfect. It was not long after our wedding vows were shared that we realized how imperfect we were. Face it. There is no perfect spouse. Only Christ is perfect, and He is the only One who can help us continue to love and cherish each other through all the imperfections and sinful patterns. And it didn’t happen immediately. We have to continually choose to be honest, transparent and forgiving as Christ has forgiven us.

4. Job loss and financial tensions – Through the many struggles we have faced of this nature we discovered where we were putting our trust. Looking back now we can see that God was helping us to trust Him with uncertainties. He has faithfully provided for us even when we didn’t know how or where the provision would come. I wish that I had time to tell you how God provided us with the most beautiful Christmas tree we have ever had the year when we barely had money to buy our children gifts. Or when God supplied us with the money needed to buy the company where Tom had worked for 16 years. He also freed Tom from his work responsibilities right before my Mom passed away making him available to walk me through one of the most difficult times in my life.

5. Parenting at all stages. From bringing them home from the hospital to sending them off to their first day of school. Letting them go happens in stages and each one was difficult for me. I must admit that having my grown children move far away has been the most challenging for me. I hear young moms constantly say how they can’t believe how fast their little ones are growing. We had children with the goal to raise them to be responsible adults didn’t we? But many of us, if we’re honest enjoy the responsibility of having someone depend on us. It can leave us feeling empty and useless when this season ends. I loved seeing my children find the love of their life, get married and start a family. The hardest part for me was watching them each move to different states. This wasn’t what I had expected for this season of my life. I love being a Nana to my 8 grandchildren and not being involved in their daily life is sad for me. But God is teaching me how to trust Him in this season as He has in every other season. Tom and I have grown closer together as well. We love being empty-nesters.

That’s it for this list. Of course there are many more challenging times in all marriages, but these are the ones that stand out to me.

What have been challenging times for you in your marriage?

Posted in Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Five Friday Favorites, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

In Case Of Emergency

We have all had it happen at some point in our marriage. Life is going along as expected and then it happens.

Photo by Youssef Naddam on Unsplash

We have all had it occur at some point in our marriage. Life is going along as expected and then it happens. You receive a phone call, a knock on the door or you hear a your child crying. You are immediately thrown into a crisis. You don’t know how long the crisis will last, but you do know that life will not be normal for a while.

My husband almost became an Eagle Scout – two badges shy of completing it. He regrets to this day not finishing, but in my mind he has all the benefits of this honor. I am blessed to be the recipient of his skill.

In a crisis he shines best. He says the most important thing in any emergency is not to panic. In my mind that’s easier said than done. However, being married to Tom has helped me grow in this area.

I remember a time when Tom was the one in crisis. He was the sickest I have ever known him to be and it made him delirious. I didn’t know the cause of his lethargy and I was afraid. I panicked!

A few days later when he saw his doctor we discovered it was a medicine dosing imbalance. He had made it through the worst of it and never was in danger of dying as I had feared. I told him how I had failed in handling the crisis. I even said I didn’t have the grace to walk through it (which is a contradiction to the promise God has given us in His Word.)

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 ESV

I was greatly troubled by my lack. He responded by saying, “You didn’t have the grace because there was no need. You had fear and God doesn’t give grace for fear. He calls us to repent of it.”

He was right. His words were like a soothing salve on my fearful heart. I had misapplied scripture and thought it had left me wanting. This was not true, and I was relieved.

Emergencies are a fact of life.

If you haven’t had one yet, you will. Talk about how you would handle different scenarios like fires, accidents, gas leaks or injuries. And here is a helpful tip for those of you who have a smart phone: There is a button at the bottom of your lock screen that says “emergency”. I thought that button automatically called 911 when pressed, but it doesn’t. It pulls up a list of your emergency contacts that you set up in advance. EMTs can access this information without unlocking your phone. We also have each other’s phone number listed under ICE in our contacts. It stands for “In Case of Emergency”. For more information on how to set up your smart phone click here.

In case of emergency the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared”, is good advice no matter how old you are.

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Five Friday Favorites – Mother’s Day

Sunday is Mother's Day in the USA. It's a day when we purpose to tell mom all the things we appreciate about her. Some buy flowers, send cards or cook her favorite meal. It's a nice tradition meant to make much of the way mom loves and cares for us the other 364 days of the year.
My Mom passed away in 2012. My Mother-in-law passed away in 2017. We can no longer pick up the phone and call, but our thoughts are still full of appreciation for both of them.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Sunday is Mother’s Day in the USA. It’s a day when we purpose to tell mom all the things we appreciate about her. Some buy flowers, send cards or cook her favorite meal. It’s a nice tradition meant to make much of the way mom loves and cares for us the other 364 days of the year.

My Mom passed away in 2012. My Mother-in-law passed away in 2017. We can no longer pick up the phone and call, but our thoughts are still full of appreciation for both of them.

Today, in honor of Mother’s Day, I am sharing with you five things I appreciated about our Moms. We hope this will cause you to pause and make your own list. But don’t stop there. If your mom is still alive, share it with her. We all need encouragement and shouldn’t wait until it’s too late. (Note: If your Mom wasn’t or isn’t the ideal mom, toxic even, we understand that this day may be difficult for you. I recommend you read a friend’s blog post titled, Seven Ways To Heal From A Toxic Mom, who offers help for you on this day.)

My Mom:

1. My Mom taught me to love history. Both general history and especially our family history. It is because of her I was able to write and publish my first book, Through The Eyes Of Grace. She was the first to receive a copy in Sept. of 2012. She died three months later at the age of 90.

2. My Mom wasn’t led by her emotions but was pragmatic in how she approached life. I didn’t like this when I was growing up, because I found it difficult to relate to her. But as an adult, I realized there is much to be desired in controlling emotions. I could lean on her when I was dealing with my own unsteady emotions.

3. My Mom was loyal. If you were her friend you were blessed by her attention to love and care. She wasn’t just a “fair-weather” friend, but would be there for you as long as you needed her no matter what.

4. My Mom was generous. She would do whatever she could to help us when our money was tight. And she would always say when we thanked her, “My parents helped us when we needed it. Make sure you do the same for your kids when it’s your turn. And don’t forget to tithe.” She was adamant about that one.

5. My Mom and Dad were married for 57 years when he passed away in 2004. They provided a strong foundation for our own marriage, not for the things they said as much as the example they provided. They made sure we went to church faithfully too.

My Mother-in-law:

1. She loved fiercely. Being full-blooded Italian, family was the most important to her. She not only showed her love, but she expressed it often.

2. She was grateful for every blessing she had. Grateful to God and grateful for her family.

3. She served tirelessly when needed. I remember her coming over while we were in the process of renovating our home. I had just cleaned up the construction mess when one mistake sent fresh cement dust all through our house. All I could do was cry; I was so tired. She came over and cleaned it all and with a smile on her face. She even took my laundry home to wash for us.

4. She loved how “her Tommy” loves me. Tom’s sister’s name is Debbie, so she always called her “My Debbie” and me, “Tommy’s Debi”. I was happy to have that nickname.

5. She loved to cook for others. I am grateful she was willing to share her recipes with me. It brings me great joy to be able to make her sauce and her olive salad. I also have her Chestnut Stuffing recipe, which I mix with my southern Stuffing recipe at Thanksgiving to make a blend of our two families.

This Mother’s Day Tom is taking me away to the mountains. We will remember the gift we had in our Mom’s and thank God for His kindness to us.

How will you celebrate Mother’s Day this year? If you need ideas check out our Romantic Mother’s Day Ideas under the Only Husbands tab at the top of our page.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Five Friday Favorites, Holidays, honor, In-Laws | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Where Heaven and Nature Sings

We are on vacation with friends this week. One of our favorite things to do together is spend time worshiping the Lord. This past Sunday morning we sat on the porch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean while worshiping to some of our favorite worship songs. One song in particular we had not heard before, so we were listening closely to the lyrics.

We are on vacation with friends this week. One of our favorite things to do together is spend time worshiping the Lord. This past Sunday morning we sat on the porch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean while singing with some of our favorite worship songs. One song in particular we had not heard before, so we listened closely to the lyrics.

Your Love Is Strong, by Cory Asbury.

While we were singing we noticed a mockingbird perched on the sea grass below who joined us in worshiping God. It was intentional and beautiful. He flew away, or so we thought, but he was back within minutes and continued his harmony.

Imagine our delight when we sang the following lyric…

And Your love, it vanquished all my enemies
It broke the cage that silenced me
And set this songbird free
I sing, for all the love You’ve given me
Rejoice because You’ve chosen me
And called this orphan home

We smiled realizing this was a moment to cherish. Not only has Christ compelled us to worship Him in spirit and in truth, but He has even compelled all of nature to join us in the chorus. When the song ended our feathered friend flew away.

Vacations are the perfect time to slow down and notice the miracles happening all around us. This is the place where Heaven and nature sings…

What is your favorite worship song?

Posted in Christian Marriage, Music, Worship | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

10 Ways To Make The Most Of Vacations

Vacation. Staycation. These are both necessary ways to relax and regroup. But it takes intentionality to pull away even while away.
Today we offer 10 ways to purpose to make the most of a vacation.

Vacation. Staycation. These are both necessary ways to relax and regroup. But it takes intentionality to pull away even while away.

Today we offer 10 ways to purpose to make the most of a vacation.

  1. Limit time on all devices.
  2. Turn the TV on only to watch a movie or sports event together.
  3. Plan something special that each of you want to do. And be present when it’s your spouse’s turn.
  4. Avoid reading or watching the news.
  5. Take walks or ride bikes together.
  6. Put a jigsaw puzzle together. Try this fun idea for doing a puzzle together
  7. Make love often. 😊
  8. Deal with unresolved conflicts before heading out the door for your vacation. We talk about this in our Unpacking for Vacation post.
  9. Explore places you’ve never been, even if the place you’re staying is familiar.
  10. Take time to reflect on what you love most about your spouse each day to keep irritations at bay.

As I write we are day two into our time away at the beach. We realize how much we have needed this time together.

What plans have you made to pull away this Summer? Check out our cabin in the right sidebar. We still have many weeks available and there is no place quite like the mountains to help you slow down and relax.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Travel, Vacations | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Five Friday Favorites – The Games People Play

Welcome to our weekly favorites post. I began this during the Ultimate Blog Challenge, and it was so much fun I’ve decided to make it a regular Friday post.

Today I’m highlighting five fun games to play as a couple. Some are previous posts, some are from other sites, all are intended to help us get out of our normal routines and do something fun together.

  1. Clue with a Sexy Twist – Yeah, we like to take board games and infuse a little romance into the rules. We love to take normal board games and make them sexy for a memorable date night.
  2. Romantic Jenga – another one where we’ve added our own spin to the rules. Just make sure you keep this game away from the kids after altering it. 🙂 Jenga will never be played the same again once you and your spouse play it this way.
  3. Win or Dare Putt-Putt Date  Win or Dare Putt-Putt Date Night - a great way to take a family game and make it memorable.
  4. Cinco es Romantico Sunday is Cinco de Mayo. You can have tacos anytime of the year. Make this year’s celebration more romantic.
    Cinco de Mayo can be Romantic--here's how.

    Photo by Samantha Grayson on Unsplash

  5. The Not-so Newlywed Game – I found this played by Cody Carnes and Kari Jobe. Known for their amazing worship and songwriting, it’s fun to hear them interact as a married couple. Why not plan to play this with some of your friends?

These are fun ways to help keep the romance alive in your relationship. What games do you enjoy playing?

Also, don’t forget to enter our giveaway. The deadline is tomorrow. If you’re not sure what we’re talking about, look at our posts from the last week for clues. 😊

Posted in Christian Marriage, Creative Dates, Date Night Ideas, Dating Your Spouse, Five Friday Favorites | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

When Nothing Is Something

I've done this more times than I can count. Tom walks in and notices something is bothering me. He asks, "What's wrong?" To which I reply, "Nothing."There are two possible reasons I give this answer.

I’ve done this more times than I can count. Tom walks in and notices something is bothering me. He asks, “What’s wrong?” To which I reply, “Nothing.

There are two possible reasons I give this answer.

  1. I am feeling sad, discouraged, down (call it what you want), and I don’t know why.
  2. Tom has upset me and him asking the question makes me more angry because he doesn’t know why.

What should Tom do?

If I give the first answer, the best thing he can do is put his arms around me and show that he cares. Words aren’t necessary when dealing with these kinds of emotional struggles. Sometimes, as he holds me the tears will flow and I can think more clearly. I’ll realize how my thoughts led me to this place of discouragement, and begin to share my heart.

In our early years Tom would more likely respond back to me with the silent treatment. It’s a “if she’s not going to talk than neither will I” mentality. And it only causes the tension to increase.

If I give the second answer, the best thing he can do is not take this as my answer. He needs to humbly find out what he has done and make it right. It’s my responsibility to not let the distance linger. The reality is he can’t make me do this. It has to be a conviction of my own heart to lean in to him rather than pull away.

In our early years Tom would have become angry with my response. If he realized the issue at  hand, he would often defend himself in why he was right and I was wrong. The argument was sure to escalate. Left unresolved this is where many marriages fail. Pile on offense after offense and the damage to your relationship is immeasurable, but not impossible to restore.

We have an enemy to our marriage. He attacks us on a daily basis looking for a way to hook us into disagreement. It’s as if he is sitting in the corner eating popcorn watching us attack each other with a big smile on his face. I don’t want to provide entertainment for the enemy of my soul. Tom and I are on the same team. We aren’t enemies even when things are at their worst–and we have been there more times than we care to count! We are fighting the same battle for the same purpose–to glorify God in how we keep our covenant strong.

Let our yes be yes and our nothing be nothing. We must commit to no longer play these games. If we do we both lose–there are no winners.

Did you get the last secret letter highlighted in bold above? If so, unscramble them to come up with the secret word. Then fill out the form below with your answer in the comment section (leave the website portion blank if you don’t have one). We will randomly draw from all entries using the number generator on Random.org. To read all the contest rules read our Home Stretch post from last week.

Thank you for staying with us through the challenge. We pray your inbox hasn’t been overwhelmed by our daily posts, and that your marriage has been encouraged and maybe strengthened to continue on this adventure together. That is our goal and why we do what we do.

To continue receiving our posts (that won’t be everyday I promise), fill in your email address in the box to the right or you can sign up for our RSS feed.  You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest. You’ll find those links at the top of the right column.

God’s richest blessings to you and your spouse.

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This is our final post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April. 

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Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Growing Strong Marriages, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Engulfed By Emotions Can Be Embarrassing

I have always been emotional. I cry at movies. I cry at weddings. I have even been known to cry at a funeral of someone whom I had never met. I put myself in another's place and imagine what it must feel like for them. This is great for showing empathy and weeping with those who weep. But at times I feel engulfed by it.

I have always been emotional. I cry at movies. I cry at weddings. I have even been known to cry at a funeral of someone whom I had never met. I put myself in another’s place and imagine what it must feel like for them. This is great for showing empathy and weeping with those who weep. But at times I feel engulfed by it.

For years I tried to hold my emotions back. I envied women who could dab a tear from their eyes and hardly anyone would notice. Not me. I ugly cry. My nose turns bright red, and my eyes swell. It’s not a pretty site. Add to that my inability to stop the flow of tears once they begin, and you can see how this is embarrassing.

Engulfed and embarrassed. How is my husband supposed to learn to live with me in an “understanding way” as 1 Peter 3:7 commands? It is no easy task because I often don’t understand myself.

What we have found to work after 4 decades of practice, is communication. Not the empty kind where nothing is really gained from the conversation. I’m talking the kind where I have Tom’s full attention. Here are four steps that have worked for us in finding a deeper level of Emotional Intimacy:

  1. Examine my heart – Tom asks me good questions to help him understand what I’m thinking.
  2. Explain how I got here. What thoughts led up to these feelings? Sometimes I have an immediate answer, and sometimes I don’t know. It takes further questions and deeper probing into my heart. But having a spouse who is willing to lean in to know me in this way is an indescribable gift. And many times we don’t figure it all out in one sitting. It’s a process and we have a lifetime to work on it.
  3. Express the truth in love by reminding me of Scripture. It is the Truth of God’s Word that will set me free from all the binds me.
  4. Embrace. On the Myers-Briggs personality test, I scored 100% feeling on the feeling/logic section. There is no logic to be found in my brain. Spock wouldn’t know how to deal with me, and I’m grateful I didn’t marry Mr. Spock. While my husband doesn’t always understand my emotions he has found that many times I just want to be heard and held.

The other thing that has helped me grow in this area is pouring my heart out to the Lord. I take Him my fears, my insecurities, my disappointments, and my requests. I cry in His presence and something amazing happens. I feel the burden lift.

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest...For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28,30 ESV

Our emotions are a gift from God. He made us each with varying degrees of emotional needs. The spouse who leans in to become intimate on an emotional level with their spouse is demonstrating what it means to love and cherish.

Have you or your spouse ever been engulfed by emotions? How did you find a way out?

(Did you find the 6th secret letter for today? Once again it’s shown by the words in BOLD)


This is our 29th post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April.


Posted in communication, Emotional, Intimacy, Prayer | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

In Or Out Of Control

There are some things you can control and some you can't. And sometimes what you thought you could control, you find out the hard way that you never could. Ever been there?
We all have, if we're honest.

Photo by Simon English on Unsplash

There are some things you can control and some you can’t. And sometimes what you thought you could control, you find out the hard way that you never could. Ever been there?

We all have, if we’re honest.

I grew up in Florida. I was born and raised in Orlando before the Mouse put us on the map. I didn’t see snow until I was 16 years old, so I have no idea how to drive in hazardous winter conditions.

Tom, born and raised in upstate New York, has explained to me that if your car starts skidding on ice the worst thing you can do is to brake and turn the steering wheel against the spin. He says you have to turn the wheel in the direction the car is spinning to help get you out of it. This makes no sense to me. I am grateful I have never been put in this hazardous situation. Or have I?

There are many times in my life when things didn’t play out the way I would have chosen. Everything in me resists going off my straight, well-thought out plan. I try to do all I can to stay on course. In fact, just so I’d have a fresh example, we had dinner plans tomorrow night I was looking forward to. When I called to confirm I discovered our friends had put it on the wrong date. They weren’t even in town so there was no chance to be spontaneous.

This is not hazardous by any means, but it can feel that way in the moment. Disappointment has a way of robbing us of present joy.

Over the past 10 years or so, I have had lots of course changes. I expected life to go one way, and it ended up skidding in the opposite direction. I tried to hold on to the wheel hoping I could control the outcome, and all it did was cause my disappointment to increase. Had I taken Tom’s advice and been willing to steer in the way the Lord was leading instead of resisting, I could have avoided much conflict in my heart.

The good part is I am changing. I see the skid coming and brace myself to go with it. I have learned some important lessons in the process:

  • I have seen God’s faithfulness in leading me in a different direction.
  • I have seen His protection in not giving me my way in the matter.
  • I have learned there is peace in trusting His lead in my life.
  • I have discovered the gift God has given me in my husband. He knows things about which I am clueless. I can trust his lead as well.
  • Just because something doesn’t make sense to me, doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do. Math doesn’t make sense and I’ve been told it is true and will always be true.

What areas seem to be skidding out of control in your marriage? Finances? Schedules? Sexual problems? Work dynamics? Extended family relationships? It can be any number of things or more than one. But there is hope if you are willing to do what you need to over what feels good in the moment.

Life isn’t spinning out of control as it often seems. God is in control and is wanting to teach us something we don’t realize, show us something we would have missed, or protect us from something we can’t see.

Hint: Today’s secret letter is in bold, once again. Have you managed to find all five so far?


This is our 28th post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April.


Posted in April 2019, Christian Marriage, Conflict, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Ultimate Blog Challenge | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Vintage Post – “O” Date Night Ideas

Alphabet Dates are a great way to add creativity to your date nights. Try these based around the letter “O”.

Originally posted on September 23, 2009

“O” Activities:

Opera – if you’re a fan, why not plan a night out at a local theater.  We love Phantom of the Opera, and if you click the link…you’re in for a treat.  (Be sure to turn up your sound!)

Ocean – plan a day at the ocean, if you’re a local visit Ormond Beach.

Outdoor – plan something you both enjoy doing outside!

Oldies – enjoy an evening listening to your favorite oldies music.  This can be whatever genres you enjoyed years ago – our favorite is rock n roll from the 60’s.

“O” Food:

Oriental – Plan a themed dinner at home sitting on the floor with lots of pillows and chopsticks.  Fold napkins in Origami style.

Steak Oscar – make this romantic meal at home…you can substiture Chicken to save money.

Oreos with the fun game Othello. An inexpensive, yet sweet date night at home!

Go OUT for dinner to Olive Garden or Outback Steakhouse! Or you can try cooking some of their recipes yourself in your own OVEN and surprise your spouse!

Donuts – what a perfect excuse to enjoy these tasty “O’s”.  

“O” Special Touches:

Write an “Ode” to your spouse using words which hold special meanings.  Don’t know how?  

Plan an Evening at the  Oscars – get dressed up and eat appetizers and specialty drinks while you watch a favorite movie.  You can even plan to honor your spouse with an award of your own!

Flowers that begin with “O” – the orchid, orange blossoms, oleander.  Can’t afford the real thing – check out Bath and Body Works for some special fragrant soaps as a surprise.

Oreo Fortune cookies – make your own secret messages, slip them inside each cookie, and give the whole bag to your spouse to discover.  Make sure the first one introduces your “O” date night that evening.

To see the rest of our Alphabet Dates from A-Z – click here.

(Hint: The secret letter for today is as plain as the Olfactory nose on your face. No bold highlights necessary.)


This is our 27th post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April.


Posted in Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Creative Dates, Date Night Ideas, Dating Your Spouse, romancing your spouse, romantic date nights | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Five Friday Favorites – At Home Meal and Movie Dates

Today for our five favorites we want to provide a fun way to enjoy a meal and a movie at home.

The idea is to take a movie you want to watch and prepare a meal around something from the story. It can be where the story takes place. It can be the ethnicity of the main characters. It can be copying the food from the menu of a restaurant featured in the movie. We have enjoyed doing this many times. Below are links to some we have done and some we have found on other blogs. Choose one that looks fun and plan your own Meal and a Movie.

  1. Movie: The King’s Speech, Meal: Veal Oscar with King Crab
  2. Movie: You’ve Got Mail, Meal: Sushi or choose from Cafe Lalo’s menu in the movie.
  3. Movie: Family Man, Meal: Diver Scallops with Artichoke Puree
  4. Movie: The Help, Meal: Fried Chicken, Grits, Chocolate Chess Pie and more
  5. Movie: The Hundred Foot Journey Meal: 29 recipes from which to choose

 

There are countless movies from which to choose for your Meal and a Movie Date Night. Which ones are your favorites?

(Don’t forget to find the secret letter in our Home Stretch Challenge. Hint: Look at the words highlighted in bold.)


This is our 26th post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April.


Posted in Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Dinner Dates, Five Friday Favorites, Movie Dates | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Are You Hangry?

Hangry is a combination of two words–hungry and angry. Anger often has the same appetite of hunger. It craves what it doesn’t have and results in a harsh outburst. Ugly.

James 4 says,

1What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.”

Think about the last time you and your spouse had an argument. It may not have been loud and in your face. You may have kept silent, but if given a voice it would have been evident.

Tom, in our early years of marriage, used to think by being silent he was handling his anger well. After all he was “controlling his tongue”. But if you’ve ever experienced “the silent treatment” from your spouse, the anger is still present. If left to run it’s course in silence, it will most likely turn to bitterness.

Bitterness is anger on a simmer.

My struggle with anger was unleashed on my children more than Tom. It was an immature and sinful response to the pressures of being a young mom. We were blessed with three children in four years and I lacked all kinds of godly virtues. Self-control and patience were sorely missing. I have since repented to each of my children and wish I could go back and redo those years. But sanctification doesn’t work that way.

God is faithful and was using the trials of motherhood to expose areas in my heart in need of growth. The good news is He didn’t leave me there.

What makes you hangry? Once you discover the answer to this question you can then allow God to grow in you what is lacking.

5For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is important to say there is another kind of anger that leads to abuse. It can be mental, verbal or physical and is not acceptable by any means. If this is your situation, we encourage you get help, and also to read Gary Thomas’ post, Enough is Enough. He discusses when it is right to walk away from a toxic relationship.

Are you hangry? There is hope for you to change if you’re honest and willing.

(What do you think the second letter in our Home Stretch Challenge is? Hint: Look at the words in bold above.)


This is our 25th post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April.


Posted in Besetting Sins, Christian Marriage, Conflict, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Repentance, Temptation, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

The Home Stretch

I love The Kentucky Derby. It’s a dream of mine to go experience this southern tradition known as The Run For The Roses that takes place the first Saturday in May. But until we can actually go, we do the next best thing–we prepare a traditional meal from either the Oaks or the Derby, and enjoy their traditional food and drinks. Recipes can all be found on-line. This makes for an awesome at home date too!

We are entering the home stretch of our own race of sorts, The Ultimate Blog Challenge. Much like the last stretch of a race, we are tired, but the finish line is in sight. This is not the time to give in to rest and relaxation; it’s time to push hard and give it our best.

So here I am. Seven more posts worth writing for the good of marriage. Seven posts that will each reveal a letter (highlighted in BOLD) Seven letters that when unscrambled, will spell one word. And seven chances for you to win a prize for finishing this challenge with us.

The prize? It is a signed copy of our book, Cherishing Us. If you already have a copy, we can send it to someone you know on your behalf.

Once you know the secret word, Send it to us by email at theromanticvineyard@gmail.com.

We will select the winner by using random.org on Saturday, May 4th–the day of the 145th Kentucky Derby. (FYI, Race time is 6:50 ET.)

Let the Race begin… (Hint: Look for the words that are bold to get today’s letter)

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This is our 24th post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April.

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Posted in Christian Marriage | 9 Comments

Countering What Annoys You About Your Spouse

Does your spouse have habits that annoy you? If so, what you choose to do with those thoughts makes a huge difference in the growth of your relationship.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Does your spouse have habits that annoy you? If so, what you choose to do with those thoughts makes a huge difference in the growth of your relationship.

The following account is told in the Bible about King David. He was bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem and read how his wife responded…

“12 Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.” (emphasis added) – 2 Samuel 6 NIV

We aren’t told anymore about their relationship at this point, but obviously Michal didn’t approve of David’s PDA for God. She was embarrassed and humiliated that her husband would behave in such a way. It’s likely this wasn’t the first time something the King did annoyed her. Annoyance breeds contempt if we aren’t aware of it. This is why we are bringing it to the forefront.

Ponder in your heart if there are little annoyances that cause you to roll your eyes when your spouse isn’t looking.

Maybe you verbalize it to your spouse in an effort to change their behavior. You may think that this is the way to deal with it, but it will do nothing but cause further distance between you.

Think of annoyances as seeds looking for a place in your heart to take root. This is why it matters what we do with these thoughts.

We can’t prevent the annoyances from happening–we are only human. But we can take such thoughts captive. God’s word helps us here…

3For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ESV

If you have discovered contempt towards your spouse in your heart, what can be done?

  • First of all, don’t trust that how you see your spouse is accurate. When we allow these critical thoughts to take root it blinds us to the good we love about our spouse and the Truth of God’s Word. In her book, It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way, Lysa Tyrkerest says,

“If we are going to be true to ourselves, we’d better make sure we are being true to our most surrendered, healed, and healthy selves, the ones God made us to be. A great verse to help us determine this is Psalm 19: 14: May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Yes, the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart must be pleasing to the Lord. And this can only happen when I align my words, thoughts, and desires with Scripture. Otherwise, our desire to ease the ache of our disappointments will lead us right into the enemy’s lies and his grip of destruction. We must not forget that our soul hunger can only be satisfied by daily doses of truth, otherwise we will be prone to snack on deception.” (Page 164-165)

  • Secondly, repent to God for each and every thought you have had that is critical and judgmental. Allow His grace to wash over your soul, and if He so leads repent to your spouse as well.
  • Finally, express your gratitude for your spouse on a daily basis. Gratitude counters contempt and helps us see our spouse accurately. It has been said that it takes three weeks to break a bad habit. It may be that you have been on this path for so long, you go there without realizing it. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself everyday to see the good. Some ideas: make a three week calendar where you can record the good, set a reminder on your phone that alerts you to be grateful, share your intentions with a close friend and ask them to check to see how you’re doing. All these are practical ways to help you stay committed to your resolve to change.

I highly recommend a The Generous Wife and The Generous Husband blog. They post everyday and give nudges on how to be generous in all areas with your spouse. Their positive focus will go a long way in countering this sinful habit.

The point in all this is to purpose to treat our spouse as the most important person in our lives, even before our children. This is the only relationship we will have day in and day out as long as we both shall live. Shouldn’t we make it a high priority for our good and God’s glory? We believe the answer is a resounding YES!

Share with us something for which you are grateful about your spouse in the comments below. Let the gratitude begin…


This is our 23rd post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April.


Posted in Besetting Sins, Biblical Encouragement, Conflict, Forgiveness, Keeping It Real, Repentance | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Five Friday Favorites – Getting To Know You Resources

How well do you know your spouse? How you answer this question depends largely on how long you’ve been together, how well you communicate your preferences, and how intentional you are in studying your spouse.

Today’s Friday Favorites are resources to help you get to know each other on a deeper level.

1. Five Love Languages – You have most likely heard about the love languages, but have you taken the time to take the test? If not, we are providing the link for you and your spouse to finally do it. Set aside a date night to discover what speaks love most to each other. You may discover you each show love according to your own language and not the language the other prefers. We found this very helpful. (Hint: you may have more than one.) The five types are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Physical Touch.

2. Enneagram 9 Personality Types – This is quite popular these days and if you haven’t heard of it, you probably will. Check out this popular Instagram account: enneagramandcoffee. The test can be quite challenging, but persevere through it and give it your first most likely answer. They aren’t the typical opposite answers, so you have to really pay attention to how the question is presented. What we love about this test is it shows how you and your spouse process life. It brought clarity to some of our common struggles in communication. Tom is a Type 1 – The Perfectionist. I am a Type 2 – The Helper. You would think these are quite compatible, except when they aren’t. Add to this the wing types where your spouse goes to when stressed or when strong. There is much to learn about this and each other.

3. Myers-Briggs Personality Test – This test showed how opposite we are except in one area. I am an ENFJ – the Giver, and Tom is an ISTJ – the Inspector. We share the common trait of Judgement. The first letter stands for Introvert or Extrovert. The second letter stands for Sensing or Intuitive. The third letter stands for Thinking or Feeling, The fourth letter stands for Perceiving or Judging.

4. Cherishing Us – This is our book that helps us find ways everyday to be intentional in our marriage. There are 365 marriage tips that serve as a vitamin for your everyday marriage health. But the part we find the most helpful in getting to know each other is the Date Night Questions section. Here you will find over 150 questions to help your conversation go in a different direction than you normally would. Missing are the typical questions about parenting, work, serving in the church or elsewhere, extended family challenges, etc. These are intended to help you talk about YOU. We hope you’ll take the challenge to learn what Cherishing Us looks like in your marriage.

5. Cherish, The One Word That Changes Everything, by Gary Thomas – This is by far our favorite book to help couples come to a deeper understanding of each other. Cherish is a rich word that has hidden behind the word, Love, in most marriage vows. As a result, we have missed a huge benefit that this word provides in creating a strong marriage. Gary also has a workbook and DVD series for those who would like to squeeze out all they can from this resource. Buy it. Read it. Thank God for it. It is that good!

Now the question is, which one will you choose? You have a lifetime to work on your marriage. Take them at your own pace and have fun with it.


This is our 19th post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April.


Posted in Christian Marriage, Five Friday Favorites | 12 Comments

Top Ten Ways To Help A Marriage Vineyard Grow

Top Ten List of How To Help Your Marriage Vineyard Grow

There is something about relationships formed through blogs that are different than your normal face-to-face kind of friendships. You can have the same familiarity, the same understanding, the same biblical fellowship (relating with each other from a Christian, Bible-based worldview), but what’s missing is the human connection. When I meet a friend for coffee, I usually greet her with a hug. I’m from the South and this is what we do. But on-line friends can’t be hugged or touched. It takes intentionality to make those human connections happen.

We have met many of our on-line blogger friends through the years. In fact, we hosted a retreat in 2017 at our cabin with the Core Team of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association. It was a highlight to be surrounded with couples we have known from a distance and respect. We were able to share meals together, talk for hours and pray for each other and our ministries. It still amazes us how God brought us all together to form such a needed organization as the CMBA. But even more amazing is how these precious couples have made it into our hearts. They have helped our marriage by the outstanding information they regularly post and we have grown to love them dearly.

If you are new to our blog, you may get the impression that our marriage is perfect.

Ha! Five minutes with us in our home and you would see otherwise. We are just like you in many ways. We have good days, bad days, happy and sad days. We interrupt each other. And yes, we fail to meet the other’s expectations from time to time. Marriage is hard work and that never changes. Sure, we have come a long way and our good days far outweigh the difficult ones. But until we make it to Heaven, the Bible says we will have trouble.

Taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge has brought many new on-line acquaintances into our view. And I can already tell some will most likely become friends. Let this post serve as a virtual hug from our home to yours. You are welcome here and we count it a privilege to play a small part in helping your marriage succeed. Of course there are many other needed elements to help marriages become all God intends.

Our Top Ten list on how to help your marriage vineyard grow:

  1. Get involved in a local, Bible-believing church.
  2. Establish friendships with other couples in a similar season for support and encouragement.
  3. Connect with an older couple you respect to learn from their wisdom and example.
  4. Read good marriage books that inspire you to grow.
  5. Make date nights a regular event on your calendar.
  6. Listen well with your eyes when your spouse is speaking to you.
  7. Ask good questions.
  8. Don’t take “Fine” as the final answer when you ask you spouse how they are doing.
  9. Be quick to ask forgiveness when you have wronged each other. Letting it blow over isn’t the same as seeking forgiveness. This shuts the door on lingering bitterness.
  10. Humility is the soil where all other virtues grow. Practice this by dealing with your own heart issues before trying to fix what you perceive is wrong with your spouse.

“Just when we are most eager to make ourselves understood, we must strive to understand. Just when we seek to air our grievances, we must labor to comprehend another’s hurt. Just when we want to point out the fallacies and abusive behavior of someone else, we must ruthlessly evaluate our own offensive attitudes and behaviors.”
Gary L. Thomas, Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?

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This is our 22nd post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April.

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Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, resources, Thankfulness | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Resurrection And Marriage

Jesus Christ has risen! He has conquered death and the grave. This is the best of news to any who are looking to be set free from their patterns of sin and shame. Jesus is the answer. Why?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Jesus Christ has risen!

He has conquered death and the grave. This is the best of news to any who are looking to be set free from their patterns of sin and shame. Jesus is the answer. Why?  Because He being the very nature God, took on human flesh and lived among us. He experienced life on every level we have, yet without sin. He did this because of His great love for us. But He didn’t stop there. He willingly went to the Cross and chose death, so we could live. When He arose that first Easter morning, it was proof that God the Father had accepted His sacrifice in our place. This is what Christians call the Good News of the Gospel. We owe our very life and breath to Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

“For God so loved the world,i that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17 ESV

In marriage, this Good News brings with it hope that we don’t have to stay the way we are. There is a way out of the ruts we have created–patterns of selfishness and independence. or of fear and shame. These ruts lead no where good. It takes determination and resolve to pursue another way. And Jesus not only promises to help us get there, He commits to walk with us every step of the way. We must simply ask.

Jesus Christ is bringing resurrection power to our lives and  marriages! So on this Holy Day, Resurrection Sunday, let us thank God for His willingness to give us a hope and future. Tom and I can’t imagine where our marriage would be apart from the Gospel. We can’t help but share our hope with all who are searching for the same.

Jesus Christ is risen – He is risen indeed!

Happy Easter Sunday from our home to yours!

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This is our 21st post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April.

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Posted in April 2019, Biblical Encouragement, Celebrations, Easter, Finding Joy, Forgiveness, Growing Strong Marriages, Holidays, Spiritual Intimacy, The Gospel & Marriage, Ultimate Blog Challenge | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Husband Appreciation Day

Husband Appreciation Day for Husbands without children.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

This day is specifically for husbands without children. Since fathers have Father’s Day, someone decided childless husbands needed their very own day too. We love to highlight all kinds of holidays, so this is one we had to share.

Now the question is, “What to do?”

We encourage you to plan a day with all his favorite things–consider food, entertainment and schedule. Next, make a list of all the things you appreciate about him and write it in a letter, note or card. Being the day before Easter, you could make him his own Easter Basket. We have lots more ideas you can find on our Wives Only Romantic Easter Ideas page as well. (Guys, don’t spoil it by peaking either!)

Why all the fuss? What about Wives without children? They too, have their very own day to be celebrated. It’s the third Sunday in September. And guys check out our Husbands Only Romantic Easter Ideas too.

 


This is our 20th post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April.


 

 

Posted in Celebrations, Christian Marriage, Easter, Holidays, honor, Husbands | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Vintage Post – The Origin Of Your Spouse Date Night

Try celebrating the place where your spouse was born on your next date, Here are some ideas to get you started.

Originally posted on April 4, 2012

We all have one. It defines us from the moment we take our first breath, and it stays with us until we breathe our last.

Yes, we all have a hometown. I was born in Orlando, and I still live here, but this is really quite unusual. Most people move away from the place where they were born. This makes the idea for this date night a real fun challenge.

Your spouse has a hometown. Why not plan a night to celebrate the origin of your spouse? It could be a fun way to get to know your spouse from a different perspective.

Here are some ideas on how to make it work:

  • Call your mother-in-law if possible, and find out all you can about the place where your spouse was born. You might ask what the weather was like when they were born? How long was her labor? What time of day was he/she born? All this information can be used to determine the little touches to your evening. If they were born in the morning, then plan a breakfast menu. If they were born in the middle of the afternoon, then plan a full course of snack foods–you get the idea. Make the evening all about their place of origin.
  • In what city were they born? Plan the menu around local favorites.
  • Is there a movie which takes place in or near their hometown? Then, rent it for the fun of learning more about this special place.
  • Decorate with the colors of the city. Discover the local sports teams and use these as a spring board of ideas as well.

The purpose of this date night is to celebrate the origin of the person God created especially for you. End it by serving their favorite dessert. There really are no limits to the fun a date night like this could provide.

Tom was born in Buffalo, NY. I’m thinking we’re going to enjoy some wings in the near future. He may draw the line when I suggest us riding a mechanical bull though. You can only take a theme so far. But it sure is fun thinking and planning for it.

Where was your spouse born? How could celebrate the origin of your spouse? We’d love to hear about it.


This is my 18th post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April.


Posted in Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Unique Dates, Vintage Posts | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Getting To Know You

We all come into marriage with expectations. Getting to know each other is the start of dismantling them.

Photo by Juliette F on Unsplash

A famous song is our post title for today. We did a parody of it at our church a few years ago for a ladies retreat that focused on the seasons of life. This song is one of my favorites that I still quote. It is about a new wife’s perspective and what they are learning about their husbands…

Getting to know you. Getting to know all about you.

You must have “boys” eyes, never find anything.

I don’t know how you managed this long without me.

To help you find your keys and your clothes, tho’ they’re under your nose,

Day by day.

Getting to know you. Getting to know all about you.

I never knew how needy a man could be.

When he is sick he acts as if he is dying.

He really milks it for all that it’s worth.

Thank God he can’t give birth!

Day by day.

Of course this is a tongue-in-cheek song that is full of stereotypes to make us laugh. But seriously, getting to know each other can be a daunting task. Especially if you enter the marriage with little or no counsel.

Wives can think their husbands will become like their best girlfriends, talking about any and everything. After all, that is what best friends are for. Right?

Husbands can think their wives are going to embrace their life and routines without question, with the best part being great sex on a regular basis.

Any of you who have been married more than a minute know this is not usually the case. (Of course there are exceptions and if you are one, you should thank God every day for this blessing!)

But if you are struggling to understand your spouse and their POV, know that this is common in most marriages. It can be the starting point of a deeper relationship if you don’t ignore the differences.

Begin by…

  • Seeking to understand each other.
  • Asking questions and listening to the answers before formulating your next question.
  • Not expecting to get it the first time you talk about it.
  • Remembering each person brings a different dynamic to the marriage.
  • Realizing no two marriages are alike. What works for others may not work for you and that’s okay.

Think of it as a marriage adventure. You begin your journey with a car packed with everything you think you’ll need on this trip together. He has his things and she has hers. He enjoys all outdoor activities. She prefers the food and shopping found along the way. They both have high expectations of what it will take to make this adventure fun and memorable. You can be sure there will be disagreements as to where they go and what they do with their time. There is one word offered to the wise that will make all the difference in how to make sure this journey will succeed…compromise.

A compromise is a meeting in the middle, agreeing to consider another option.

We all have expectations, and they can be good. When they aren’t good is when they turn into demands.

Demand is defined: to ask for something forcefully, in a way that shows that you do not expect to be refused. 

If this is where you are in your relationship, there is hope. Realizing the problem is more than half of the battle. A great resource that we have found helpful with this issue is a book by Paul David Tripp titled, What Did You Expect? Redeeming The Realities Of Marriage

“One way God establishes beauty is by putting things that are different next to each other. Isn’t this exactly what God does in marriage? He puts very different people next to each other. This is how he establishes the beauty of a marriage. The moon would not be so striking if it hung in a white sky; in the same way, the striking beauty of a marriage is when two very different people learn to celebrate and benefit from their differences and to be protected from their weaknesses by being sheltered by the other’s strength.”

We pray we can all learn to find such beauty in our marriages: Celebrating the differences and sheltered by each other’s strength.

What are some ways you have found this to be true in your relationship?

Celebrating the differences and making them a strength in marriage.

Photo by Pearse O’Halloran on Unsplash

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This is my 17th post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in April.

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Posted in Cherishing, Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Perspective in Marriage, resources | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments