Happy Hour + A Message From Us

This week is a big one in our lives. We published a new book that we are excited to finally offer to you. And we celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary tomorrow. How grateful we are to God and to our friends who have helped us with both. We realize we would not be where we are today in our relationship or in our ministry if it weren’t for the faithful input of friends who have cared for and prayed for us regularly. Most of all it is God who deserves the glory.

First we want to share with you our heart about the topic of cherishing in our marriage.

Following are our blogging friends who have shared about our book this past week or who have impacted us making this book possible. We hope you’ll visit their blogs and glean from the stories and wisdom they share. We are rich when it comes to relationships as you’ll see.

Gary Thomas

  • Why Are Christians So Mean? – Tom and I have felt this for years, and Gary writes about it beautifully. We pray God uses this post to influence a new culture of love and grace in the church. And Gary’s book Cherish has had a huge impact on our marriage. We can’t recommend all of his books enough. Buy them. Read them. Be changed by the truths he shares.

Heaven Made Marriage

  • Cherish Your Marriage Everyday – Scott is a friend with whom we have enjoyed extended time at our cabin for a Christian Marriage Bloggers Retreat. He is a lot like Tom in many ways, and his encouragement comes natural. He and Jenni both excel at reminding people of who they are in Christ, and it is for Him that we do our marriages well.

Hot, Holy and Humorous

  • Pursuing 4-Dimensional Intimacy – J invited me to contribute a guest post, since she is slammed with a busy season. I was honored for the opportunity, and I must say I love the metaphor I believe God inspired in this post. You’ll have to read it and see…

Intimacy In Marriage

  • 3 Reasons to Invest in Your Marriage – Julie’s thoughts about Cherishing Us. Julie is a busy mom, wife and blogger, yet she always has time to encourage others, myself included. This is another example of the many ways she has sought to build us up. We have yet to meet face-to-face, and I can’t wait for that day!

Life on the Lighter Side

  • Cherish is the Word – Bonnie is a dear friend who also goes to our church. We are in a writer’s group together and her encouragement has meant so much through the years. And this post is no exception. She does it well, sprinkled with lots of humor. 🙂

The Forgiven Wife

  • 7 Things I Love About Cherishing Us – Chris is a new friend that I highly respect. She is well-educated and thinks much more deeply than I do. These are the kinds of friends with whom I love to spend time; every conversation I learn something new. And her story is one that is honest, self-disclosing and full of lessons she has learned on this journey called marriage.

We would also love to give a huge thanks to the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association. We are 141 blogs strong and grateful for the support and networking they provide.




Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Happy Hour | Tagged ,

2018 Date Night Challenge – “F” Date

Meme credit: No Small Life website

I had so many grand ideas for this date, but FAIL was not one of them. Once again, I’m sharing our FAILS with you, so you can realize that date nights have to be FLEXIBLE. But I must admit this one disappointed me.

Tom has decided to take up fishing again. Something he has enjoyed, but not had the time or resources to do on a regular basis.

My F date plan was to go to the beach on Valentine’s Day where he could FISH all afternoon. We would then have dinner at J.B.’s FISH Camp. From there I had reserved a FIRE RING on New Smyrna Beach where FRIENDS were going to join us for an evening under the stars.

Sounds perfect doesn’t it? Only one F I didn’t anticipate–FOG. The fog rolled in like a thick blanket and with it a cold, drizzly mist. Our friends had already driven over to join us for dinner. So we ate, went to the beach for this FOTO and left.

Rather than be disappointed with it all, I decided to take a FREE redo, which happened last night. We went to one of our FAVORITE local restaurants, FUZZY’s Taco Shop, and then came home to our own backyard FIRE pit. We talked about some of our FAVORITE dates through the years, and surprise–this F date might just be a new FAVORITE.


We’d love to hear about your alphabet dates. It’s not too late to join in the challenge. 

Check back next month when we plan Dates around the letters G and H. 

Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Keeping It Real, Outdoor Dates | Tagged , , , , , ,

Is Your Marriage All In?

Photo by Cory Bouthillette on Unsplash

There is growing tendency in newly married couples to stay independent financially, socially and emotionally. This is cause for great concern. Let me explain…

When we said, I Do, we were committing to a new way of life. We were declaring we were no longer “me”, but “we” and the way we do this is by merging our individualism into our union as one flesh.

In our finances

It is an important demonstration of trust to have a joint checking account. I have heard some say, “But then I can’t buy any surprise gifts for my spouse.” Tom and I have learned to either save cash as we can for those special gifts. Or we tell the other to not look at the checkbook until such and such a date. It is possible to work around it, and what it costs to not share your finances in regards to secrecy and lack of trust, makes it not worth it in our opinion. And here is the opinion of a qualified expert in regard to finances, Dave Ramsey.

I remember one year when we were on a very tight budget, living paycheck to paycheck, there was no extra money, at least that’s what Tom thought. Every week when I bought groceries I would save an extra $5 or $10 and put it away in a jar in our son’s closet. I also had garage sales where I was able to hide some of the money and add it to my stash. I did this for an entire year. By December I had saved $450 in cash and was able to surprise Tom with a new stereo system for Christmas.

The look on his face when he opened it revealed his fear that I had charged it. When I explained it was completely paid for, he was shocked! Then he wanted to know how I had found that kind of money. It was so much fun to tell him all I had done to make this happen. This spoke volumes to him of my desire to bless him in a way having separate checkbooks never could.

Don’t avoid the hard times for often those become our best memories.

In social events

When you are asked to go and do something with family or friends excluding your spouse, that should be a red flag to you! First of all, if you want to go and do without your spouse, why? When you said you were committing your life to your spouse until death parted you, that meant saying no to your old normal. You are no longer two, but one. It’s important to act like it.

Second of all, you are declaring to your old way of life that your new way of life is a priority to you. You have an enemy who wants nothing more than your marriage to fail, making a mockery of your vows. Be on guard and fight this drift to individualism.

Thirdly, your may be throwing little darts at your spouse’s heart. They may not tell you that, but if they are honest it most likely hurts that you are choosing to be selfish in planning your social time.

Of course, I am not saying you can never do anything without your spouse at your side. What I’m talking about is choosing time with others over spending quality time with your spouse on a regular basis. Marriage takes time to cultivate, especially when you are first married. The best thing that happened to Tom and me when we were newlyweds was we moved to another city far away from our old normal. We had no choice but to cling to each other, even when we had a fight. We had no one else to talk except each other. I didn’t like it at the time, but we were laying a solid foundation of WE that has supported us through all kinds of difficulty.

And living this way has huge benefits that you may not realize until it’s too late. Consider C.S. Lewis’ experience…

C.S. Lewis’s wife, Joy Davidman, died of bone cancer on July 13, 1960. The next day, the famous author wrote a letter to Peter Bide, the priest who had married them, to tell him the news.

“I’d like to meet,” Lewis writes, suggesting the two grab lunch sometime soon. “For I am—oh God that I were not—very free now. One doesn’t realize in early life that the price of freedom is loneliness. To be happy is to be tied.”

Don’t avoid each other when in conflict, lean in and grow stronger together.

In our emotions

As a single I never had anyone with whom I could confide my deepest feelings. I had friends but none who really knew me, which was mostly my fault. When Tom entered my life, he was the first who really pursued me emotionally. He would ask questions and actually listened as I answered. It was unnerving, yet comforting at the same time. I was learning to trust him with my emotions and every time I thought he was going to think I was silly, he loved me all the more. I got to see up close how Christ loves me and I have never been the same.

I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to switch my emotional dependence from life-long friends to Tom. But I am here to say you can do it. Not that you have to shun your old friends, but you must let them know that your spouse is first in your heart and emotions. To share things with them before your share with your spouse is wrong. Don’t do it! It may feel uncomfortable, it may take extreme self-control, but this in a part of honoring them as the most important relationship in your life.

Helpful posts from Gary Thomas on How Men and Women think differently:

All three of these temptations to independence are the primary ways God helps us grow more intimately together as husband and wife. No wonder the enemy of our souls chooses to go after them.

In which of these three ways are you being tempted to drift in your marriage? We encourage you to seek help. Years from now you’ll be glad you did, and you’ll have a strong foundation on which to stand to help others.

Are you all in?


Posted in Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Newlyweds, Priorities, Seasons of Life, Showing Honor, Temptation | Tagged , , , ,

Our New Book – Cherishing Us

Our book is now available!

This has been in our hearts for years. We have shared snippets with you on social media, but now you can have Healthy Marriage Tips within reach.

Cherishing Us is a compilation of 365 marriage tips, one for every day of the year. The book begins in Spring – March 1st – when everything in the Vineyard is coming to life. It speaks of promise and hope, something we pray you cling to for your marriage.

At the end of each month we have provided cultivation questions to discuss and help you to dig deeper and grow in your understanding of your marriage and each other. We also provide a date night prompt so you can mix some romance and fun into your month. 🙂

We all go through seasons of drought, cold and winter. Spring always follows and with it comes new life. No matter the difficulty there is hope. This is what we pray our book will remind you of each day.

Marriage is an adventure we take seriously. We pray this book will become a resource you use to cultivate your marriage vineyard.

God has been faithful to lead us to write this book, and it is because of Him and His work in our marriage that we have anything to offer.

Order your copy today! They make a great gift for engagements and weddings too!

Posted in Christian Marriage | 3 Comments

Cherishing Us – A New Resource to Help Your Marriage Grow

Photo: Nico Tavernise

I close my eyes and I can see
The world that’s waiting up for me
That I call my own
Through the dark, through the door
Through where no one’s been before
But it feels like home

I can’t hear Hugh Jackman sing this song without gratefulness welling up in my heart for what God has done in our marriage. What began as a dream in my husband’s heart when we were first engaged, has resulted in seeing God restore and grow not only our marriage, but countless others.

However big, however small
Let me be part of it all
Share your dreams with me

Today a dream of ours has come true thanks to so many for helping us along the way. 

Ten years ago Tom and I were immersed in marriage counseling through our church. It was difficult to see couples struggling in so many ways. Intimacy was broken, and we were there to listen, offer biblical counsel, but most of all friendship and faith. We encouraged them it didn’t have to stay this way.

I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

It was during this season that The Romantic Vineyard was born. We set up our blog as a tool to help these couples access resources to use when we weren’t available. It served that purpose well, but it has also become so much more.

We look back on this journey and all we can do is give God thanks for His indescribable gift; our marriage is more than we ever dreamed or hoped. Our blogging community has grown in ways beyond our expectation. This reveals the need all marriages have–to grow in intimacy: emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually.

In order to prevent the natural tendency there is to drift apart, we need the following to move forward:

  • We need help
  • We need hope
  • We need daily encouragement
  • We need to be intentional
  • We need God’s grace
  • We need to love and cherish our spouse in order to fulfill the vows we made at first.

Today we announce a new resource to help marriages grow stronger as the years pass…

Cherishing Us walks us through the seasons of a vineyard and relates it to cultivating a strong marriage. We pray this book will find a place in your home and heart. Read the daily tip and spend time talking about what God is showing you. Answer the questions at the end of each month and then celebrate by choosing one of the Date Night Prompts provided.

May God richly bless your marriage as you seek to grow it for God’s glory.

“A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.”

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Celebrations, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Music, resources | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

2018 Date Night Challenge – “E” Date

Maison et Jardin Garden

It was Tom’s turn to plan our “E” date, and I must say he did an Exceptional job!

First, we had tickets for an Event at Maison et Jardin to view the newly renovated estate and sample their food. We met Executive Chef, Giovanni Bordenga, who prepared an appetizer of pork belly and gnocchi with pine nuts. It was amazing!

This former restaurant, now a much sought after venue for weddings, private parties and corporate events, is where Tom took me on our first date almost 40 years ago. Whenever we have a chance to visit, we are Ecstatic; A perfect way to start the Evening.

Next, Tom picked up a pizza to-go, and drove us to downtown Winter Park where Enzian Theater was hosting, Popcorn Flicks in the Park.

The featured film was, While You Were Sleeping. Although the movie didn’t fit with the “E” theme, Tom knows it is on my “Movies I Enjoy the Most” list.

All in all in was an Excellent date right up until the very END.

(You’re welcome!)


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

Happy Hour

It’s been awhile since we featured some of our favorite blog posts. May I say it’s not because there is a lack of great content? It’s more because my schedule was pre-occupied with planning and pulling off an amazing wedding for our youngest daughter. She is a Mrs. now, and my heart is full. Now we can give our full attention to promoting marriages in as many ways as we can!

Following are some of our favorite blog posts we’ve discovered this week…

Active Manhood

  • How To Re-Kindle A Relationship–I was asked by Daren Dilts to answer this question, and this post is my take on it. Thank you, Daren, for the opportunity to participate.

Gary Thomas–Closer To Christ, Closer To Others


To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Have a great weekend!


Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Happy Hour

2018 Date Night Challenge – “D” Date

Tom here.

It was my turn to plan our next date, the letter “D” Date, and I had come up with a great idea. What I didn’t plan for was the place to be closed for a private event. NO! And I didn’t know until the morning of our date. Double NO! I tell you about it because this happens sometimes, and you have to go to Plan B.

Plan A was to go on a Double Date with friends to Top Golf, a multi-level Driving range to hit golf balls. When I called to make our reservation I found out they were closed. Bummer. I told Debi about it, and gave her a raincheck for us to go another time. She was ok with that.

Plan B was a Double Date with same friends for Dinner at The Tap Room at Dubsdread.

After that we went to a game room for some Down time. We relaxed, laughed and had a great time.

M Bar offers FREE video games which made the night very affordable

This golf game was our favorite

Ford Mustang pool table

It was a Dynamite Double Date Night

The takeaway for all dates is to be flexible. When something doesn’t go as planned, don’t let it ruin the night. The whole point is to do something together to make a memory, and that we did!

Happy Dating!




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

Valentine’s Giveaways

Orlando Date Night Guide is giving away a free date night each day during the month of February. That’s 28 winners, plus a few more. Some days they are giving away more than one prize.

Click over and sign up. Don’t forget to sign up for your spouse too, and double your chances of winning.

Have a great weekend!

Posted in Blog Love, Contests, Date Night Ideas | Tagged , | 3 Comments

The Joy Of Writer’s Block


Writer’s Block is a frustrating place to be. And I don’t like it one bit! You do, like the meme suggests, feel like a failure. But there is another Writer’s Block that I actually look forward to having in my home on a monthly basis.

Writer’s Block is the tongue-in-cheek name of our writer’s group that has been meeting for years.

When we started almost 20 years ago, there was only a handful of us for whom writing was a hobby. We have grown in number. We have had our works published. It has been rewarding to look back to see how far we’ve come and how our friendships have deepened.

This week my dear friend, Bonnie Manning Anderson, has published her first book. It is her long-awaited fiction novel titled, Always Look For The Magic. This book is based on the stories her dad told her of his growing up years during The Great Depression. And can I say, it is not your typical first-time author’s novel? She has a voice and sense of humor that keep you wanting more. You will feel as if you are walking the streets of this small town with Artie and his brother, Tommy.

Artie knows that an unusual gift from his teacher can only mean one thing; his dream of becoming a magician is certain to come true. Why else would she give a top hat to an 11-year-old boy? With his brother Tommy, neighbor Pauline, and Maggie the dressmaker dummy by his side, things are finally looking up, until life around him gets weird. His parents refuse to admit that anything is wrong, but a mysterious knock on the door reveals that Artie’s greatest fear has come true.

Always Look For The Magic, is available on Amazon in paperback as well as e-reader versions. Do me a favor and support her accomplishment won’t you? I encourage you to buy it for yourself or as a gift. I assure you it will bring smiles and laughter to all who read it.

The real magic found in this book is the way Bonnie tells the story.

You can read more of Bonnie’s writing on her humor blog, Life On The Lighter Side. (If you do so before noon today and comment on her post, you will be entered to win a free copy of her book.)




Posted in Blog Love, humor | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Local Date Night Gems – The Glass Knife

The owner collects glass-handled knives, which inspired the name

Tom and I recently visited The Glass Knife, located on 276 S ORLANDO AVE
. It’s one of those places you didn’t know you missed until you found it. Orlando has needed a high-end dessert establishment that sells quality coffee as well as wine for a long time.

At the risk of sounding cliche’, let these photos speak for themselves. A picture really is worth a thousand words.

Red Velvet Cake with their signature edible, gold accents

Lovely Latte

I “donut” have to explain this one!

You can buy cakes whole or by the slice.

The Displays are their best advertisement

Individual booths make the experience quite romantic

The Glass Knife also offers a romantic Date Night Booth. At the time of this post it is on a first-come, first-served basis. However, they are making plans to offer reservations soon.

I failed to mention, they also serve savory foods for breakfast, lunch a dinner, but it was hard to notice with all these sweet offerings. You can check out their menus here.

Happy Dating!


Posted in Birthdays, Celebration Dates, Date Night Ideas, Local Date Night Gems | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

2018 Date Night Challenge – “C” Date

Publix Cooking School – Dr. Phillips

For our C date, I decided to build on Tom’s love for cooking and food, in general.

First, We went to Starbucks for a Cup of Coffee while we waited for our feature of the night to begin. Tom’s favorite is Doppio, a black, double espresso. Mine is Blonde Flat White, nonfat with one pump of classic syrup.

Next, our local grocery store chain, Publix, offers cooking classes. Some are hands-on and some are demonstrations only, but you get to eat great food at both.

I chose a demonstration class this time–Winter Wine and Dine–featuring all the great flavors of winter. My hope was for Tom to sit back, relax and enjoy a great meal while learning something new. And that is just what we did!

We had front row seats which allowed us to interact with the chefs.

Our four course dinner was delicious!

By the look on his face, I think this date was a success!

The tips we learned:

  • Coriander is the seed of cilantro
  • Using a ceramic knife when cutting avocados keeps them from turning brown. Store in a glass, not metal, container. This works on any fruit that tends to turn brown after cutting.
  • When using fresh cilantro, bunch it together at the stem and use the tines of a fork to strip the leaves off.
  • Partially freeze bacon before cutting in pieces.

It’s your turn…share with us what you did on your date this month.

Happy Dating!


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

Local Date Night Gems – M Bar and M Lounge

Photo by
Drew Coffman
@drewcoffman on Unsplash

Whether you’re planning to visit Orlando or you call it Home, our Local Gems feature is provided to help keep the doldrums away when it comes to date nights.

We have heard it said that if you were to eat out every day, three meals a day in the Greater Orlando area you could go years before eating at the same place twice. With such competition, only the best restaurants survive. Sadly, many of them are independently owned establishments. This is why we love to find these out of the way places and pass them on to you.

With our first post in this series we are excited to share this find with you – M Bar and M Lounge. They are two separate places located in the same building, owned by the same company.

M Bar – Orlando’s Classic Cars and Bar

Located downstairs at 2000 N. Orlando Avenue, Orlando, FL, in the Ivanhoe District. Majors Investment Firm is who owns and operates the Bar and Lounge.

Opened Wednesday through Saturday, plan your next date night here to relax and unwind. Free video games, pool and pinball machines are available too.

M Lounge – Orlando’s Rooftop Bar

Located in the same building but on the rooftop. Orlando has needed a nice place with a view of our growing skyline. This place fills that need beautifully.

“I want to hold hands and waste Friday nights with YOU.” – unknown




Posted in Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Local Gems | 2 Comments

Overlook Ahead

Have you ever thought about overlooking an offense instead of plunging, head-first into an argument?

Consider these scenarios…You spent a lot of time explaining something vey important to your spouse. Then, you realize they weren’t listening to you.

  • You’ve asked your spouse to do something for you while you’re away only to discover when you get home that they didn’t do it.
  • Your spouse is tired and says something very uncharacteristic for them. It hurts and you are tempted to apply all sorts of motives of why they said what they said.

Here’s an idea–overlook it! I know, I know, in the heat of the moment it is difficult, and sometimes seems impossible, to do this. But recently I’ve been choosing to overlook minor things that don’t feel minor at the time. And you know what I’ve discovered? God honors this choice, and removes it from my memory.

My husband told me last week that he was mad at me for something that was not that big a deal. He decided to overlook it. The next day he told me he couldn’t even remember why he was mad at me in the first place.

I wonder how much conflict we could avoid if we would pause for 24 hours and ask God to help us overlook the offense?If it goes away, you know it wasn’t important. If it doesn’t, then it’s something you need to discuss together.

In the mountains when we stop to take in the view of an overlook, our focus is on the big picture beauty of God’s creation. In the same way, when we pause and choose to overlook, we see the big picture truth that our spouse loves us and is for us. We are on the same team.

Let’s choose to overlook more than we nitpick. The view is incredible!


Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Marriage Is Our Passion

From the day we were married, Tom said that we would spend our lives helping marriages thrive, and he has never wavered from this conviction.

We have hosted countless small groups in our home for the sole purpose of building strong marriages. We did this when we had newly married ourselves. We didn’t know from experience how to build a strong marriage, but we embraced it by faith in God’s Word.

Today, nearly 39 years later, we are able to add our personal stories to the help and hope we offer others. It hasn’t been easy. In fact, there were times when we didn’t like each other at all. But our vows have kept us committed when our emotions failed us.

Last week our youngest daughter married her best friend. She has waited a long time since her brother and sister got married, but Matt was worth the wait!

Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Aznaran

There were many moments, snapshots that we will carry in our hearts forever. Answered prayers are like that. You dream for years of what the answer will look like, but it always pales in comparison to the real thing. God is amazing. God is faithful. God is good. And we couldn’t be more thrilled in finally welcoming our newest son to the family.

Thank you for praying for us these past few months. We were able to be completely present for all the ups and downs of planning a large wedding.

This week we will pack up her things into her car and watch them drive away to their new life in another state. There will be tears. There will be sadness. But there will be no regrets.

“The Lord has done great things for us;
    we are glad.” – Psalm 126:3 ESV

Posted in A Fragrant Aroma, Christian Marriage, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

The Greatest Showman and Your Greatest Marriage

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

I would like to pose a question at the outset of this new year. Do you know why your spouse is the way he/she is? Do you know why they react or don’t react to circumstances you face? Do you understand their perspective when your reactions differ?

If you answered “no” to any of the above, you have work to do in your relationship. And this is a work that will be worth the effort. Have you considered the possibility that you may not know your spouse as well as you think you do. Many times we make assumptions about our spouse based on how we process things. But if you’ve been married more than a couples of years, you realize your spouse does not do things the way you do them.

Marriage is a promise to learn how to live and grow together for the rest of your life.

Maybe yours doesn’t look like you thought it would, and this can be a huge disappointment. But what you do with those disappointments is the difference between marriages which thrive or die. We pray yours will thrive.

Movies can also thrive or die. What makes the difference between a box-office hit and a box-office bomb? Good movies allow us to get to know the characters and what motivates them. The Greatest Showman is an excellent example–we love this movie! The characters, their stories, the music and the fact that it’s based on true events, make it sure to succeed.

Some elements of a successful movie and how can we apply them to marriage?

  • Understanding the plot – Where is your marriage heading at this season of life? What are the priorities that dictate your next step? Communication is key to being on the same page when it comes to your current circumstances.
  • Care for the characters and their outcome – Is your spouse and their happiness important to you? If not, you need to spend time rekindling your first love. You may have unresolved conflict or bitterness at play. This is a cancer to your relationship, and ignoring it is the worst thing you can do.
  • Conflict moves the story forward making us want to keep watching – Notice that conflict is good for the story, but unresolved conflict isn’t. Have you ever watched a movie that left something important unanswered? How did it make you feel? If you are like me, that ruins the whole movie. We like to see things resolved, even if the ending is not the one we would have chosen.
  • Subtexts are the unspoken points of the story line. We must learn to hear what our spouse isn’t saying to us on difficult days. Understanding them to the point where we can read them based solely on facial expressions or body language. This is a level of intimacy that allows us to love our spouse in ways no one else can.
  • Musical Score- This provides the appropriate background to the action taking place. I like to think of this as the romantic gestures of our daily lives. Sometimes my husband needs me to do his laundry, which can be a practical expression of my romantic love for him. Sometimes he needs me to bake his favorite cookies. Sometimes he needs me to plan a night out on the town to a new restaurant he did not know existed. Sometimes he just needs me to show him physical intimacy at my initiative. Listening to the storyline and then choosing just the right romantic act is what adds depth to the marriage. Sure you could have a movie without music, but it would feel empty.

P.T. Barnum and his life is a story worth telling. He loved his wife dearly, but life became a circus. Literally! It took conflict and confrontation to help him discover that which was most important. I won’t spoil the movie for you in case you haven’t seen it yet, but I will tell you that it will impact you on all the above levels. It is an excellent movie and worthy of many Academy Awards.

What about your marriage? Would it be an award winner? There is still time to make your marriage uniquely yours…

“No one ever made a difference being like everyone else.” – P.T.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Perspective in Marriage, Priorities | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Challenge Begins…A and B Dates

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

It is December. The first month of our new challenge for 2018. If you missed our first post explaining the Date Night Challenge, you can read about it here.

On Monday Tom had to go to Tampa for business. I had already planned my “A” Date for Tuesday in Lakeland, which is halfway between Orlando and Tampa. I knew he wouldn’t want to drive back to Lakeland if he had just driven to Tampa the day before, so I asked if I could go with him and stay the night. He loved the idea and ended up planning his “B” date night for Monday evening. 🙂

Bern’s Steak House is one of the best restaurants in the country.

They are well-known for their high-quality steaks and service. It is also expensive, so this was not an option for dinner. However, they do have a unique and affordable alternative which was perfect for our “B” Date–The Harry Waugh Dessert Room.

Each table is hidden behind  a portion of an old wine BARREL making you feel as if you’re all alone–very romantic. Each BOOTH has it’s own music panel where you can select the genre of music you’d like to listen to–pop, classical, jazz, etc. We chose classical because it added to the overall ambiance of the night.

Tom ordered a carrot cake served ala mode with macadamia nut ice cream, a Bern’s original.

I ordered creme BRULEE’ with a side of whipped cream topped with a beautiful sugar fan.

It was a great start to our challenge.

Next was our “A” Date.

We started by going to ARCHERY Adventures.

I discovered them through Groupon, making the date much more affordable. We had personal instruction on how to hold the bow and shoot the arrow, and then a full hour of target shooting on their inside range. It was a blast, and we discovered we’re pretty good at it.

Afterwards we drove back to Orlando and had lunch at ART’S Sandwich Shop. This is one place we have gone for years since it was around the corner from where our business was located.

Lots of memories remembered and made–A perfect start to our 2018 date night challenge!


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

Anticipating What’s to Come

What a privilege it is to encourage you and your marriage to grow. It is a responsibility we don’t take lightly. When life requires our attention there is a constant struggle of wanting to give you our best, yet take care of those closest to us. This is the reason for this post.

Our youngest daughter is getting married in January, and we are in serious countdown mode. I went with her for her final dress fitting this week and was filled with emotion as I worked hard to not become a blubbering mess. She has waited a long time for the right man to come along, and we could not be happier. Our soon-to-be, son-in-love adores our daughter. He is an answer to a lifetime of prayer.

We are very aware that our time with her in our home is limited, as she will also move out of state when she becomes a Mrs. That will mean all three of our children will call different states home. We are obviously doing our part to cover the southern states, something I never expected. This is why we are pulling back from writing in anticipation of what’s to come. We hope you understand.

In the meantime, please enjoy browsing through our blog for inspiration and help. Don’t miss our Romantic Christmas Ideas located under the Only Husbands and Only Wives tab.

Lastly, we pray your Christmas is filled with moments you’ll cherish forever as you celebrate the birth of our Savior. Without Him, our marriages would lose their meaning and purpose.

We invite you to enjoy the following as our gift to you…

Have a very Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

Tom and Debi


Posted in Christian Marriage, Christmas, Holidays, Priorities | Tagged , | 3 Comments

#GivingTuesday Starts At Home

For the past 6 years Giving Tuesday has been encouraging people to give away to others as a way to better their community. But it isn’t limited to your own backyard; people have traveled around the world to give to those in dire need. You can read their stories here.

But today I want to draw our attention closer to home.

What if we were to take this #givingtuesday mentality and give to our spouse the same kindness we give to others. We might be surprised how kindness can transform our marriage when practiced. Take a minute and think of one thing you could do today to make your spouse’s life easier. Or better yet, what is something that your spouse is passionate about? Do something to support their passion in an unexpected way.

Tom recently did this for me. We were at Kari Jobe’s Garden Tour when they shared about World Vision–an organization where you can adopt a child in need. My heart is always stirred with compassion during such presentations. Knowing this, Tom raised his hand to receive a packet and filled it out for us to participate. My heart was thrilled knowing we could play a part in one child’s life to give them hope for a better future.

Later, when I asked Tom why he raised his hand, he said, “I did it for you.” Ah, such a kind gesture that spoke volumes to me of his love and care.

So on this #givingtuesday, let’s outdo one another in showing acts of kindness. We want to make the world better and the best place to start is at home.

Posted in Christian Marriage

Our Only Hope For Thanksgiving

Today we are in the throes of Thanksgiving prep as many of you are as well. But each year something happens unexpectedly that can throw a wrench in our well-thought plans, and this one is no exception. How do we navigate these disappointments without letting them ruin the day?

Michele Morin, at (in)courage.me, shares a post titled, Thanksgiving Celebration and Lament, that will point your gaze in the right direction this Thanksgiving, I know it has ours.

Thanksgiving Day serves as an annual reminder that we live with one foot in celebration and the other in lament. Our only prayer for peace is to own the sadness; to recognize the power that grinding sorrow has over our hearts — and then to throw the door wide open to the feast.

By acknowledging and even embracing lament — an art we have lost here in North America — our celebration can be restored. Our feasting can be deeply sincere, even in a context of deep suffering or deep disappointment.

Take some time to click over and read it. And then tomorrow, remember that your sorrows and disappointments don’t ruin your celebration, they remind you of your need for God and His care in the midst of it. He was a man of sorrows and was acquainted with grief. He alone can comfort you as you celebrate all He has done.

Happy Imperfect Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Tom and Debi


Posted in Christian Marriage | 3 Comments