Five Friday Favorites – Ways To Fight Fear

It has been a difficult month so far. Lots of circumstances that can tempt me to fear and I must fight for faith and peace. Have you ever been in a similar season? Bad news seems to be like one unwelcome intruder after another knocking on your door? Yesterday alone we received news of three heartbreaking situations that required immediate action, prayer and support.

Photo by Katerina Kerdi on Unsplash

It has been a difficult month so far. Lots of circumstances that can tempt me to fear and I must fight for faith and peace. Have you ever been in a similar season? Bad news seems to be like one unwelcome intruder after another knocking on your door? Yesterday alone we received news of three heartbreaking situations that required immediate action, prayer and support.

Not exactly how my Friday Favorites posts begin, but this is real life. Tom often says,

“We are all a phone call or text away from our lives changing, sometimes forever.”

Which leads to my favorites list this week…

Five Favorite Ways To Fight Fear

1. Cry Out To God In Prayer (Lament) – to lament is to show a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. The Psalms are full of examples on how to do this. I have found that lamenting to God always leads me to my next favorite…

2. Worship – We are blessed with many great songwriters who, like David, pour out their hearts to God and beautiful songs are created in the process for our benefit. A new artist who is also a friend has released her first song titled, Hold On – by Alli Myers. You can download it on iTunes and be encouraged. Another song that God led me to this morning is, You Never Let Go, by Matt Redman.

3. Read the Bible “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:17 ESV. The opposite of fear is not doubt as some imagine. It is FAITH. And faith is my word for 2019. It also helps to remember to put on the whole armor of God in order to fight this enemy. Our sword is the Word, which when heard builds up our faith. Faith is our shield of protection against the enemy’s attack. We need both to fight well. Tom and I enjoy reading daily devotions on the You Version app. We highly recommend doing the same one together so you can talk about what God is showing you.

4. Phone A Friend(s) – There are times when I have no words or energy to fight on my own. This is when it helps to have friends that will 1. remind you of the Truth, 2. hold you up in prayer, and 3. provide encouragement to endure the suffering. I have even set up text groups to send out an SOS for prayer support when needed.

5. Find A Sermon Or Book To Help – A few of my favorites are:

Just writing this post has encouraged my heart and reminded me of the rich resources I have to help me not stay discouraged. I do have a prayer request though, if you are so inclined. Would you pray with us for healing for someone dear to us. I can’t share specifics–God knows the details–but as many as we can have joining with us in prayer the better. Grateful for your love and support.

Have a romantic and faith-filled weekend!




Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Death and Grieving, Difficulty, Five Friday Favorites | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Stop Chasing Squirrels

I love watching Tom do those things for which he is passionate, like lead our marriage community group. When someone asks him about their marriage he lights up and never fails to offer wise, biblically-based counsel. And the older he gets the richer his wealth of knowledge and experience becomes. I love this about him.

Living with him means our marriage is under constant growth and examination by not just him, but both of us. It is the attention to detail that comes with anyone devoted to something. Currently we are working on communicating more attentively. I’ll share something with him and rather than comment on what I said he’ll disregard it completely and talk about something else. We call it, “Squirrel!”

It isn’t intentional on his part, just a bad habit. Tom sincerely apologizes saying he doesn’t want to do that to me, but he still does from time to time. Later that same day, I did the same thing to him. It goes both ways, and we are working diligently to change this in our marriage.

If your spouse is devoted to something, you know what I mean about the time and attention they give it. There is the constant talk about what’s new and coming soon. The next competition or the next conference. It may be a favorite author or artist announcing a new work. Whatever it is your spouse takes interest in, don’t dismiss it. Take delight in their enjoyment of it. Ask them questions and do your part to make them better at doing it.

Healthy marriages excel at fanning the flames of your spouse’s passions, not quenching them by chasing squirrels.

Whether it’s a sport, craft, activity or subject matter, get to know this side of your spouse and watch them light up with passion. After all, we vowed to help our spouse become the best version of themselves. This is a great place to begin.

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, communication, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Vintage Post – Five Sense Romance

I have shared this on our Only Wives section of the blog, but today I share it with you as part of our Five Friday Favorites series.

These are five ways to romance your spouse using our five senses as your guide. NOTE: These are just Ideas to get you started thinking of what ways you could stimulate your spouse’s senses. Have fun!

Five Sense Romance – Use the five senses to communicate your love and care for your husband: 

Smell – If you know your husband is having a rough day, have something wonderful baking or cooking as he walks in from work.  The smell will draw his heart as a reminder of why he loves home, and it will communicate your love to him without words.  

Hear– Listen to things your husband says under his breath like, “I’m thirsty”, or “I need to take care of such and such”.  Make this your first priority so that your husband will be amazed at how you knew exactly what he was wanting or needing to do.  

Touch – Reach out and take his arm or hold his hand no matter where you are.  This communicates not only to him that you love him, but it’s also a demonstration to the world that you belong to one another.  

Taste – Make it a regular habit to surprise your husband with his favorites (ice cream or coffee after dinner, a cold drink waiting for him when he goes to the bedroom to change after work).  

See – Look for any and every opportunity to encourage him when he does something romantic for you that is unexpected.  Often times our husbands do little things for us, that we don’t even notice because we’re distracted. 

Posted in Christian Marriage, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, romancing your husband, romancing your spouse, romancing your wife, Romantic Ideas | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

First Steps Toward Change

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. It is a familiar quote and one repeated often. But the fact that is familiar doesn’t mean we are practicing Mr. Franklin’s advice.

When we were young and told to clean our rooms, putting this chore off had consequences. Not only did we have a messy room, but we had to face the punishment handed out by our parents. We disappointed them more than we realized. Sadly, many of us didn’t get it until we had children of our own.

In marriage it is much the same way, but differing in who it is we are disappointing. If our spouse has asked us to do something and we are regularly putting it off, what does that say about our commitment to the marriage?

Procrastination is selfish and goes against all that marriage is supposed to be.

If procrastination is selfish, then faithfulness in doing what you say you’ll do is the opposite. It communicates how important our spouse and their requests are to us. It could be as small as taking vitamins or making the bed everyday, or as big as fixing that dripping faucet.

Is there is something you have been putting off? Odds are good that if there is you know exactly what it is. Your lack isn’t due to forgetfulness. It is something that obviously isn’t important to you. Can I encourage you with a gentle nudge to grow up in this area? Don’t play into the scheme of the enemy by disappointing your spouse day after day.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” it says in Proverbs.

It is one thing to fail in doing what we were supposed to do as children; it is expected to some degree. After all, they are children. But as adults let’s put away childish ways and be faithful in the little things (and big things) in our marriage and in our home. It matters more than we know, and the consequences have lasting effects.

What is one thing can you do today to take that first step towards change?

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Conflict | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Five Friday Favorites – Florida, The Sunshine State

I am a native Floridian and I love it here. Even with all the changes in traffic, population, congestion, and humidity, Florida is home. Tom and I have the privilege of traveling quite a bit. With him officially retired we are now “free to move about the country” as he likes to say. We especially love road trips together. But there is something that happens in my heart whenever we cross the state-line back into Florida. It’s as if the sun shines brighter for me here.

This brings me to this week’s Friday Favorites post – the five top things I love most about Florida, and a date idea to go along with it.

1. Sunrise and Sunset – We are able to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, and then drive across the state to watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. We call this date our Sunrise Sunset Date and it is one of my favorites.

2. Afternoon Thunderstorms – In Orlando during the Summer I look forward to our afternoon thunderstorms. It provides relief from the heat and it demonstrates God’s faithfulness and power to all who notice. These storms form when the sea breezes from the east coast hit the gulf breezes from the west coast, and it’s usually around Orlando in the late afternoon. The powerful display is fun to watch. I love the big skies over Florida and the ability to watch storms roll in from a distance.

3. Familiarity – Having lived here all my life, I know where everything is. I love this aspect of living life in my hometown. History is a precious thing and living where most of mine has happened is comforting to me.

4. Outdoor life – Boating, camping, hiking, fishing, surfing, kayaking. These are all fun ways to enjoy Florida. But one of my favorites in the cooler months is to sit outside around an open fire pit. We have one in our backyard, and there are fire rings you can reserve on the beaches in Volusia County (New Smyrna Beach) to enjoy one surf side.

5. Restaurants and Entertainment – We are blessed to have the world literally in our backyard. We can eat any type cuisine we desire, and with my Yelp app we can find the best of the bunch. Orlando is growing leaps and bounds. It truly is The City Beautiful. Check out our Romantic Orlando Guide for when you are planning to visit.

What do you love most about your state? We invite you to brag about it in the comments.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Dating Your Spouse, Five Friday Favorites, Orlando Date Ideas, Summer Date Ideas, Summer Sizzlin' Dates | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vintage Post – The Verbs Of Your Marriage

(Originally posted on August 21, 2014)

I love words and how they have power to help us understand our marriage. Most of us don’t give much thought to the words we use and why. But we should. Words reveal. Words have power. Words linger in the air of your relationship long after they’ve been spoken. And they can cause more damage than we know, and more health than we realize.

It matters what we say and how we say it.

I remember when I was homeschooling our children we were using an English curriculum that required my kids to diagram sentences starting in 3rd grade. This was something I never had to do, and it fascinated me. It proved there was structure to something for which I had never given much thought. Wow. I see now how foolish I was to never give thought to the words that came out of my mouth.

fool‘s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul. Proverbs 18:7 ESV

Sentence structure may be boring to you, but taking a closer look at the words that come out of our mouth will help us discover if we’re being wise or foolish in our communication with our spouse. Most of you reading this post are familiar with the following verses:

For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.  James 3: 2 – 5 ESV

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!

Can you imagine there being a fire in your home and you doing nothing to extinguish the flames? Worse, can you imagine if you were the one to start the fire in the first place? It would be scandalous, yet when we choose “fighting words” we are doing this very thing.

I recently read a post about the Verbs Of Your Life on a Pastor’s Heart blog, and it got me thinking…What verbs are active in your marriage right now.

Verbs are action words. They reveal what we’re currently doing. By making a list of our verbs it will help us see if we’re being positive or negative towards our spouse, our marriage, and ultimately our life.

Here is a short list of some verbs that could reveal hot spots in your marriage:

  • yells
  • ignores
  • disregards
  • embarrasses
  • humiliates
  • assaults
  • cringes

On the other hand your list may include verbs that reveal what you’re doing right:

  • gives
  • honors
  • respects
  • romances
  • loves
  • cherishes
  • serves

Our words matter.

Practical Application: We encourage you to plan a night where you and your spouse can take some time and discuss the verbs in your marriage right now. Be honest. Honesty is like a fire extinguisher on the hot spots of your marriage, IF you’re saying those words with love and tender-care. Being honest just to dump on your spouse is not loving, and it lacks care. It’s much easier to do as the song says and “say what you need to say,” without considering how you should say it. 

Here’s a quick tip: Share your heart with your spouse in the way you would want them to share with you.

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 ESV

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Vintage Posts | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Fine Line Between “We” and “Me”

It has happened more times than I can count since Tom and I have been married. We hear of another couple ending their marriage and it breaks our heart. Not only for the failure to keep their covenant before God and family, but for the children who will bear the effects for the rest of their lives.

Divorce hurts! And no matter what you may have heard, the hurt never goes away.

I understand how couples get there. There is a fine line between “we” and “me”. When we start processing our marriage through the “me” lens, everything is skewed. What should be resolved together turns the other away and seeks a solution alone, many times without the other knowing.

This is why we are passionate about encouraging strong marriages. You may or may not realize how close you are walking this fine line between “we” and “me.” It usually begins with a question in your heart as to the motive of your spouse. You make assumptions based on what you can see and what you can hear. But what is missing is most important of all–What are they thinking? The only one who knows this answer is God and your spouse. Don’t assume you know the answer – ASK!

If the questions are allowed to continue, what usually follows is disdain. Everything your spouse says and does is judged by how you are viewing them, not on how they truly are. Pay attention to your thoughts toward your spouse. Are they uplifting? Encouraging? Filled with love and admiration? If not, then know you have work to do.

When we look at our spouse we should see them and love them for who they are, not who we want them to be. Of course, we want to encourage our spouse to grow and mature in their faith and life, but how we see them today is a compass for the direction we’re heading.

A healthy marriage sees what’s lacking in our spouse and takes it upon ourselves to encourage them and help them be the best they can be.

A borderline marriage sees what’s lacking in our spouse and grumbles and complains. Maybe this isn’t done out loud, but that makes no difference. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Take these thoughts captive and remember what character qualities caused you to fall in love with them in the first place. No spouse is perfect, nor will they ever be! Knowing this helps us accept them where they are. Our privilege is to help them become even more than what they could be on their own. This is the beauty of marriage. I’m a better “me” because of “we”. I am sure it’s the same for all who practice this.

How is it in your marriage? Are you in a healthy place or walking the fine line between “we” and “me”. Let us help by encouraging you to deal with this now before you find yourself calling your friends and family to tell them your marriage is over.

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

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 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.


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



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

We will select the winner by using 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)


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


Posted in Christian Marriage | 9 Comments