Weekend Wrap•Up

Take some time and catch up on what you missed this week! It’s all in one place. Be encouraged. Riding the Struggle Bus – Sarah Jefferson     When Things Don’t Turn Out as Planned – Patricia Holbrook     How We Sell-Out and Keep Doing It – Kelly Balarie     Prayer for the Hopeful – Kelly Stanley     Your Spouse is NOT Your Enemy – Julie...

Your Spouse is NOT Your Enemy

As an engaged couple, we committed to attending a FamilyLife Marriage conference. We wanted to avoid any pitfalls that might come our way, and for my husband, this was his second marriage. I brought my own baggage into the marriage. We learned principles that gave us a great foundation. One of the things we learned is so simple that it’s almost cliché. That your spouse is not your enemy. If you’re a newlywed, it’s laughable. When would your beloved ever become your enemy? Fast forward past our newlywed years, past my own chronic illness and infertility, job changes, a move, nearly losing our baby, and the death of my dad and we were not in a state of oneness. We’d been separated during the week for a few months while my husband worked a new job out of state and I tried to sell our home in our current state during all these changes. Once we sold the house and moved as a family to Ohio, we were certain life was going to be bliss. That marriage would click along like it did those early years.  We were ensnared by conflict. He was used to being on his own because of the job change taking him away during the week. I was the single mom for a while and I found my own method of getting things done and I resented any correction he had for me. I was grief stricken and tired. A fight ensued and I unleashed a lot of ugly. And out of my husband’s mouth came the words, “I’m not your enemy.” At first the...

How to Finish Well

I love how God uses information for one group, and it ministers to another. Over the weekend I attended a youth conference as the “taxi-driving mama” and stayed to get some work done. I ended up hearing the messages while working and I received just as much encouragement, challenge, and motivation as the teens did. The last session featured a speaker who made it clear the energy from the conference and declarations made don’t impress him. It’s seeing the same passion six months from now. Five years from now. Anybody can make a commitment and be excited about it, he explained. The true winners are the ones still reading their Bibles, praying, going to church, and striving to grow in their relationship with Christ. It got me thinking, isn’t it the same for marriage? I’ve seen too many couples to count who were passionate about the wedding. When the wedding arrived, they had no idea what to do in the marriage. The passion waned, their frustrations increased. None of those couples made it to ten years. Commitment.  Marriage isn’t for wimps. It’s hard work that you have to put forth every day. When you wake, your first commitment for the day should be to the Lord. The second? To choose oneness in your marriage over isolation. If you enter marriage with covenant thinking, knowing this is a promise you made not just with your spouse, but with God, you’ve already made more of a commitment than those who were all about the wedding. The youth speaker compared a serious commitment to a runner.  When my kids set up the...

Tips for Middle-Age Wives and “Yanno”

Ever watch a horse race?  I always feel bad for the lone horse still in the stall after the race starts. Doesn’t the horse want to have fun?  Why is he just standing there when promises of vegetable ecstasy await at the finish line?  Why isn’t he out there? After I hit the 40 milestone I realized I had a lot in common with the horse lagging behind in the stall. I’m blessed to write with a great team of ladies, including those who write for the site Adding Zest. One of the ladies, Patty Wysong, coined the physical aspect of marriage with the term, “yanno.” As in, ya know I’m talking about bedroom things in marriage. I thought about my marriage and “yanno” and felt a harsh truth. I was the horse in the stall. Life is busy. We are a middle-aged couple raising two school aged children. Hubby works full time and then some. I write full time. We’re active in ministry. We have family and friends. To say we don’t have alone time together is an understatement. Honestly, we realized our “just Tom and Julie” time was nil, and our personal stall was more than our schedules. I’m in the middle of another phrase—mental pause. I wasn’t leaving the “yanno” gate because ladies, half the time I couldn’t remember where the gate was. I was also having the inner blush so intense if my clothes were coming off, it was to cool off. I had a headache. I was tired and yet I woke hourly some nights.  Did you know at the eye doctor we talked...

Marriage Resources and Books for any Budget

I realize in today’s economy, traveling with your spouse to focus on your marriage might not be in the budget. Fall is a special time for our marriage as this was the time of year we would take a weekend for ourselves and enjoy a FamilyLife Marriage conference. We still go through the books and have recollections of principles we learned for the first time that we believe saved our marriage before it even started. Even if we can’t attend a conference  that doesn’t mean we can’t work on taking our marriage to the next level. Speakers would tell us that taking time for our marriage wasn’t just important, it was vital. After all, they would say, “you don’t wait until your car is completely broken down on the side of the highway before you seek help. You put gas in it, change the oil, observe fluid levels, etc…”  The same goes for marriage. I thought today I’d share marriage resources that can help your marriage, no matter what state it’s in. FamilyLife––The organization has so many resources. We benefited most from the Day to Remember Marriage conferences, something we even did before marriage. Click here to find one of their many marriage conferences near you. 5 Love Languages—Gary Chapman’s bestselling book and other marriage resources. Gary Smalley Official Site—The Smalley family is dedicated to sharing marriage helps. Dr. Kevin Leman—Funny, relevant and accurate as he calls them like he sees them. Focus on the Family—Can connect you to local counselors or give other marriage information. Life on the Edge—Chip Ingram provides life changing materials for marriage. Adding Zest...

Three Children’s Games Our Marriages Should Avoid

Part of my summer included facilitating a small group study helping participants live in freedom only found through Christ. One of the lessons asked for testimonies and I shared a season in my life where God changed me but through an adversity I’d rather not go through twice. While speaking I spoke a term that just came out of my mouth, I didn’t plan to say it. When the next person shared, I asked a follow-up question and another term came to light. Today I’m unpacking those terms to help our actions in marriage. I realized those terms happen to be activities children love but for us wives, they are choices with negative consequences. Whack-A-Mole: In my testimony term I said something about having a whack-a-mole life. I was enabling a situation that needed God’s hands, not mine. Yet to prevent the world from seeing the situation I jumped in time and time again stuffing the circumstances. It was a dysfunctional Whack-A-Mole game where I was leaping everywhere trying to stuff things that I had no business getting involved in. I think the above is something I can use to avoid being the Whack-A-Mole wife. I’m guilty of thinking I’m doing my hubby a favor by jumping ahead of him in planning, actions, and sadly, even finishing his sentences. I’m plugging up situations that could be shared opportunities for oneness by being a Whack-A-Mole wife. Part of my testimony during that course was confessing I had to let go and let God. This is a good reminder to use in marriage, too. Juggling. It’s fun to watch an amateur...

One Great Marriage Reminder from a Singing Cardinal

One of my favorite parts of summer is watching the various birds visit our feeder. Male cardinals are frequent visitors and I can distinguish their song from the others. It wasn’t long ago God gave me a special affection for the red bird as I learned they are known for being “loyal defenders.” Imagine my surprise when after church, with the humidity creeping up and a headache coming on, there was this constant distraction. It was a high pitched chirp that seemed incessant. I have very sensitive hearing so this chirp quickly went from an irritation to the absolute ruin of my day. I just wanted to finish up lunch so I could head upstairs, lay down and have the fan drown out the sound. My son walked by and said something that stopped me. “Boy that cardinal sure is annoying with that constant singing today, isn’t he?” What? The very thing I enjoy the most is the source of my frustration? The noise is the singing cardinal? I listened closely to the non stop chirp. It was the cardinal, my beloved cardinal, driving me absolutely bonkers. It was also at that moment God gave me a little nudge and some huge revelation. My husband is as much like that singing cardinal as I am to him. Remember the early days? You were attracted by how well he listened or the things he wore or did for others? You told others about these things, gushing about him and those specific things.  A few months of marriage set in, then a few years and suddenly you’re in the middle of...

In All Things, We Choose to be One

Those that know me both online and “in real life” realize one of my morning rituals during the week is watching the Today Show.  Last month the headlines were all about not just a celebrity scandal, but a political one as well.  Before all the news regarding the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver separation came out there was reflection on the last year of their marriage.  Putting aside the latest revelations, there are some things our marriages can take away from those ponderings.  How can our marriages learn from a celebrity we most likely have little in common with? 1. Understand grief. The media explained that Maria Shriver lost both parents and her beloved Uncle Ted in a short span of time. Unless you’ve experienced loss like this it’s hard to understand what an impact this has on marriage.  In 2004 our marriage experienced the chronic illness of our baby that included hospitalizations, constant medical appointments and therapies.  My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away months later. My husband’s job changed and eventually he was forced to find another. God provided one…three hundred miles away. There are still moments these events hit me between the eyes and I feel so overwhelmed I think I could collapse. It took a few years before I could put into words what my needs were when grief struck. I needed a lot of assurance. I needed physical touch that came in the form of hugs. More than anything, I craved his shoulder and his alone to cry on. I personally learned a lot through GriefShare and encourage anyone experiencing grief...

Three Guidelines to Safeguard Your Marriage While Participating in Social Media

Although I don’t always participate in them I can’t help but observe trends. I remember my mom telling me decades ago I should save my clothes for my kids because history always repeats itself. I’m watching girls wear leg warmers as if it was their idea, not something I remember wearing. Boys blowing the long hair out of their eyes in hopes of catching that special girl’s attention, something their dads most likely did 30 years ago. Spouses communicating with people of the opposite sex with no plan to stray from their marriage even though that plan of action is a trend that has failed marriages for not just decades, but centuries. The trend I’m seeing is blending social media with breaking marriage vows. I’m not thinking of anyone specific because I’m seeing it happen more than once as I have numerous friends on Facebook and Twitter. Relationship status updating or Tweeting is becoming a heartbreaking trend. The relationship status goes from “married” to “It’s complicated.” It then evolves to separated and then to “in a relationship.” People ask how they met the other person on Facebook or Twitter. And although they aren’t as excited to share this information as much as the “new” status update, they are still married and not to the person they are announcing the new relationship to. It wasn’t long ago the variable involved in affairs was the bar or yes, even the church. Marriages dissolving through social media is a trend, but just like the mullet coming back, it doesn’t make it right. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind to make...

Three Marriage Lessons Wives Can Glean from Esther

There are times God is speaking to me and I’m just not getting what He’s saying. I have always prayed that when this happens He do whatever He has to do to get my attention. When I discover I keep running into the same topic, song, sermon or Bible verse, I know that this is His cue for me to listen up. Lately the cue has been the book of Esther. I listen to a sermon and it’s about her. I’m reading non fiction books and there she is again. Browsing blogs and yep, Esther. I started taking notes and found a common theme in her story. Esther has great tips for contemporary wives to apply in their lives. 1. Be proactive, not reactive. Esther learned the Jewish people, her own family, were in grave danger of being obliterated and her husband was the one who signed the edict to make it so. I would think if anyone had the justification to freak out, Esther did. I’ve overreacted over much less. One of our first fights was when I went out for ice cream but took a side trip to the mall without calling to let him know. This was before cell phones so he had no idea where I was and he panicked. I returned safely to meet his disappointed gaze and I gave an Oscar winning performance. Esther is a good example of what to do in marriage. She went to prayer and declared a fast before approaching her husband. It’s a good lesson I wish I modeled. 2. Soak it in. Before King Xerxes chose Esther...