Monday, April 22, 2013


If you read other Christian marriage blogs, you've noticed confessions are all the rage these days. Not the I'm-not-really-married or this-is-my-tenth-marriage kind of confessions. No one is dropping bombs. But just the kind of confessions where readers get to learn a little more about what makes the bloggers tick, which is always cool. If you follow a blog long enough, you really start to think you know the author, so a good confessional makes you feel like you are part of the inner circle.

I'm just now developing this blog, and I decided to spend a few months really working on it before I shared it with anyone I know. In the meantime, I know folks do stumble across it (I see you in my stats. I know). So I thought, eh, I could probably share a little more about what makes me and this li'l ole blog tick.

I am not a perfect Christian and I don't have a perfect marriage. I am not blogging to tell anyone how to do it. I'm blogging to challenge myself and my marriage to be better and stronger and if it encourages others along the way ... *happy dance*. Because I write this for me, I'm trying really hard not to be preachey. But I also know my nature is to be sort of preachy. So, to sum it up: I am preachy and I don't want to listen to anyone be preachy. Yay.

If you want to demand proof that I don't have it all figured out, I'll let you in on a secret: my husband and I have a two year old and we have only been on two dates since she was born. See? Not all figured out. We know we should be going on dates, but we haven't ever figured out how. We also had our reasons for the first 14 months (said in my best - oh geez - preachy voice).

Marriage is just hard work. Plain and simple. Even when you marry a really great person, and I did (now, my husband on the other hand...)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

It Matters Who You Marry...

Hop on over to to read an excellent article on "It Matters Who You Marry".

I guess if I had really wanted to start my blog "in the beginning", I could have started there. It's hard enough to be married when you have a fantastic husband - I cannot imagine how it would be if I have picked a husband who was not a Christian, who had no interest in working, who beat me.

Instead, our arguments are about who emptied the trash last. (Me.)

In college, I knew a girl who would I think purposely date guys who were not Christians. Girls were a rare thing at my technical college, so guys were pretty desperate. If she wanted them to go to church, of course they would. But were they genuine about it? Mostly, no...

Where I grew up, we called this "missionary dating" - using the guise of a relationship to attempt to force a conversion. It's not a good idea. Some missionary daters might looks at 1st Peter 3 and think "oh, so this is a blueprint for how to get my significant other to convert":

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,  when they see your respectful and pure conduct. (1 Peter 3:1, 2 ESV)

I wish it were so easy! Just be a good wife and your husband will come around. But read it again and you'll see that Peter never promises a change.

For those of us who have the option (suddenly I hear Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies"), focus on this verse instead of 1st Peter 3:1:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV)

Don't get confused - these two verses don't contradict each other. I'll boil it down like this - don't date unbelievers. Period. And if you won't heed that advice and end up married to an unbeliever, you have your work cut out for you. Does that sound like happily ever after?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Love Yourself List

In a previous post, I had the "aha" moment about loving yourself more. Let's discuss :-)

God's plan for marriage is that the man and woman become two halves of one body (Genesis 2:24). If you don't love yourself at all, it's basically impossible to have a really great marriage - you already hate half of it! For so many women, we find it hard to put ourselves first, and when we do, we end up feeling incredibly guilty. And we need to stop it! Taking care of ourselves isn't something to feel guilty about - it should be natural. And by putting ourselves first, we do put our marriage first.

I got to wondering - what kind of improvement would an ordinary marriage see if one spouse dedicated herself (ok, or himself) to really loving herself (or himself. Whatever). And not in a selfish, self-serving way. In an honest organic way (did I use that right?).

So here's a little list (I like lists) to get you me started.
  1. Forgive. If you have a specific nagging guilt, get over it. Go to God right now, get on your knees, and talk to Him about it. Lay that burden right there at God's feet and leave it there. Forgive yourself. 
  2. Spirituality. Have a relationship with God. I mean a relationship. Pray often. Read His word. Fellowship with others who are like minded. Sing His praises.
  3. Rest. Allow yourself the rest that you need. If you are so exhausted you can't hold open your eyes, you are not doing yourself (and by extension  your marriage) any favors by cooking an elaborate dinner and then doing the dishes. Order out. Have sandwiches. Find a way to accomplish the same goal without burdening yourself. Don't feel guilty about early bedtimes, sleeping in, or naps. 
  4. Eat. Fuel your body right. It's hard to really love yourself when you ate a whole pizza for dinner, with some chips on the side. And then followed it up with a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream. (Was that too specific?) And it's especially hard to love yourself when you are on some cult-ish diet (looking at you, Paleo and Raw Food) because you may never be able to live up to "perfection". Eat well. Don't eat too much, but eat enough. Go read this.
  5. Exercise. This is a big one. Some of us don't love ourselves because we think we have a bit too much of us to love. Those hips. Those thighs. That muffin top. So do something about it. And while you are doing something about it, you'll get an endorphin boost - a natural antidepressant - so your mood and outlook will improve. Even if you never fit into a size 4. 
  6. Family. Stay connected with your family. Hopefully your family loves you and accepts you and encourages you. Hopefully they support you and can assist you with other items on this list. If not, or if you don't have much family, focus on #6.
  7. Friends. Have a great core group of friends. Have friends that you can call at 2 am and tell them anything. If you don't have this already - it's going to take time to develop. Work on being open to new friendships. Invite people out for coffee or over for a BBQ. Having good girl friends is wonderful, but don't forget to have "couple" friends that you and your husband enjoy, too. 
  8. Community. Get involved in your community. It's really hard to hate someone (you) who helps the poor or battered women or abused animals. 
  9. Relax. Spend a few minutes each day just unwinding. 
  10. Recreation. Recreate yourself - have a hobby or a craft that you enjoy. Maybe you just like to read. Maybe you like to blog. Maybe you like to unicycle. Go for it. Having a great hobby gives you an identity and you'll never be at a loss when asked to fill in forms that ask you about "special interests".
  11. Housekeeping. Find a balance with housekeeping, 'cause it's really hard to love yourself if you live in an episode of Hoarders. But be gentle and don't expect too much - especially if you have little ones. Make a list, download an app, or have a chore chart, but just do your best. And then accept that you did your best. 
  12. Finances. Control your financial life. It's hard to love yourself if you are swimming in debt or living paycheck to paycheck because you just have so much stress (see #9). Allow me to recommend Dave Ramsey - he even puts most of the really beneficial information for free on his website. He also hosts a (free) radio program, so you can find out where to tune in.
  13. Affirmations. Recite affirmations - they really work. This is the "fake it 'till you make it" stuff. If you are having trouble finding friends, then a good affirmation would be "I am a friendly person and I attract good friends". You phrase it in a positive, present tense way, never using "I will..." or "I hope..". You do. You are
  14. Work. Last but not least, don't go to a job you hate. I'm not saying "don't go" - I'm actually saying "stop hating your job". As Christians, we are supposed to do everything to give glory to God's name (1st Cor 10:31). That's pretty hard when you show up to a job that you just despise. Pray for an attitude change and try to remember you work for God, not man. If you are Pollyanna and still hate your job, find another one (except if your job is being a wife and/or mother. Feel free to take another job, but do not take a different wife/mother job). 
I'm letting you read the list, but it's totally for me. I need this stuff. I'm going to spend the next 40 days working on this list and reporting back to you (if anyone is reading) the changes I have made and hopefully I'll have another list - a list of positive impacts to my marriage.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The 60 things...

In my very first post, I mentioned a list of 60 ways to make your marriage better. The list was shared by a friend, but as near as i can tell, originated with Daniel Akinlami on Facebook. The Internet is bubbling over with recommendations on fixing your marriage and I don't mean to imply that this is some sort of program you must follow to have a rockin' marriage. It's just a list, people (and I like lists, see "about me" - it's in there. Practically in list form. I think I will make it a list. I digress.)

I liked this list for a few reasons - the first two items are pray together and read the scriptures together. Yes, please! One of the other items was to go to bed at the same time. Let me first say that we are pretty terrible about that, seeing as how I get up at 4 am (I used to run then, see "about me"). I don't know why dear hubby doesn't want to be in bed by 8 and up at 4, but I do remember that this was covered in a book we read for premarital counseling.


3. Go on regular date nights
4. Hide notes in secret places
5. Go to bed at the same time
6. Listen to music together-share ear-buds
7. Buy him gifts he will love
8. Revitalize the romance with intimate dates
9. Wear shirts that tell the world you love your spouse
10. Praise your spouse to other people
11. Read a marriage devotional
12. Sleep in his t-shirts
13. Renew your vows privately with whispers and memories
14. Renew them publicly with cake and bubbly
15. Go away together at least once a year

For Women Only
16. Hang pictures of the two of you around your house
17. Make his favorite dessert
18. Make sex a priority
19. Spend time apart occasionally
20. Learn to enjoy something he loves
21. Surprise each other
22. Meet him at the door
23. Text each other from across the room
24. Set reminders on your phone to remember him/her throughout the week
25. Call him right now and tell him you appreciate him

For Men Only
26. Leave work on time and come home early
27. Engage every day in meaningful conversation
28. Compliment each other
29. Take one day a month to make your spouse your total focus
30. Argue fair: avoid these words “you always” and “you never”
31. Kiss every day
32. Find tangible ways to serve your mate without complaining
33. Forgive quickly
34. Be honest.
35. Get on the same page: plan your budget together
36. Look your best as often as you can
37. Guard your marriage
38. Laugh together
39. When you are together-BE TOGETHER (take a break from phones, technology, etc)
40. Tell her she’s pretty, especially when she’s not feeling it

41. Make each other breakfast in bed
42. Do her chores for her
44. Get a couple’s massage or host your own privately
44. Dance together-soft music (both of you alone) or rocking music with the kids
45. Exercise together- hikes, bike riding, etc
46. Choose not to be annoyed by an irritating behavior/disappointment from your spouse
47. Thank your spouse often even for the least reason or gesture
48. Lay in bed together and stare into each other eyes, without talking
49. Learn something new together-take an art class, cooking lessons, etc
50. Leave a sweet comment on the Facebook wall
51. Support each other’s goals
52. Bring her flowers/gifts (even when she says they are too expensive)
53. Wear something your spouse loves
54. Share furniture-sit in his lap
55. Fight for your marriage
56. Make a point to eat dinner together most days of the week.
57. Never let your spouse feel like they come second place to your career or any other thing.
58. Talk about your dreams and aspirations. Be supportive of each other and dream big together!
59. Maintain a united front as your motto: Meaning- “Me and you against the world.
60. Speak well of your spouse.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Of Duck Hunters and Marriage...

My husband and I just moved across the country. As part of the move, we decided that we wanted to save money and not get a cable or satellite TV package, so we don't want much "current" TV these days and it's worked out just fine for us. But so many of our friends and family are obsessed with the Duck Dynasty show, I have had to go read about it :-)

Yesterday an article popped up about Duck Dynasty and the cast marriages, so I went off to learn more about what makes these guys tick and why so many of my loved ones watch this show. I learned that the stars have all been married for a long time (and they married young at that). At least one of the marriages had some pretty significant problems at one point, with an alcoholic husband throwing out his family - only to beg them to come back. What the wife, Kay, said about her motivations for reconciling grabbed me. Kay said that her grandmother would say "One man, one wife, for life".

I'm not here to tell you what the Bible says about living with abusive or alcoholic spouses. The severity spectrum is too great to sum up every case in one li'l ole blog. The focus I did want to have was this: marriage can be really hard, but there could be great rewards for not giving up.

That reminds me of a quote I recently read:

"More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse" - Doug Larson

And all this reminds me of how precious metals are refined - through heat. You don't find pretty, gleaming gold and silver just sitting around in mines. It's mixed in with all sorts of other junk that detracts from the beauty of the precious metal. In order to get pure gold, the heap of good and bad all go through an intense heat ... And out comes the shiny gold. Your marriage might be the mix of junk and precious metal, and an ordeal could be the fire. The ordeal could purify your marriage, leaving it with only the good stuff. I didn't just come up with that analogy - God uses it to describe his people throughout the Bible (see 1st Peter 1:6-7 or Isaiah 48:10). And you can do an internet search (or just go here) to learn more about the refining process.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hard To Hear...

In my last post I mentioned that I was reading through the Bible over three years with the intent to focus on passages that relate to marriage. I'm really excited about this plan, because the reading is so quick and it allows me to have time to really understand what I'm reading. Today's reading was Genensis 3 - the fall of mankind.

The second half of verse 16 really got me today:

To the woman He said,  "...Yet your desire will be for your husband,  And he will rule over you." (Genesis 3:16 NASB)

We'll get there much later on, but the New Testament talks about how the man is head of the wife (Ephesians 5:22) and how the wife should submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22) which is totally in keeping with Genesis 3:16. And I know this really irks some people out there - people will argue about those points until they are blue in the face. In this day and age of feminism, some women can't accept that they should submit to anyone and they won't worship any place that dares to cover this topic. If you are already closing out your browser, stick with me...

Ephesians 5 is not just verses 22 and 23. No one - NO ONE - should read those verses in a vacuum.  There is a whole, beautiful chapter that you miss out on! Actually, just read the rest of verse 23:

For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. (Ephesians 5:23 NASB)

Then pick up in verse 25:

Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:25)

And verse 28:

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (Ephesians 5:28)

So, yeah, wives should submit to their husbands, but then the husbands are supposed to really love their wives - and not just a physical lust "love" that so many people think of today. This is real, true, genuine love - the same love that Christ has for the church, which he died for. The same love you have for yourself - which is hopefully a love that respects and honors yourself. That is what we should see in marriage!

In a perfect world, the woman submits but the man (because he loves her so much he'd die for her) will never ask her to do something she doesn't want to. In that light, it's not so bad, right? And this is coming from someone who believes in girl power! But I believe in the power of Jesus' blood even more!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Love Yourself...

In my first post, I mentioned a Facebook share that set me off to start a blog. I'd love to share that very list here, but I'm apparently going have to type each item - one by one. I'll work on that for a future post. If you are hankering for a great list to look at in the meantime, just do a google search; there are all sorts of happy-marriage-lists out there.

One thing not on the list is doing a daily Bible reading that specifically seeks to understand the role of marriage in our lives. I have read through the Bible several times in my life, but I haven't done a devoted reading for a long time and now that I have a young one running around, it's especially hard to find time. I found an app that has a 3 year reading plan option, so if you divide up the entire a Bible to read over the course of three years, you'll only read about a chapter a day. I can do that! I just started the plan yesterday, so I don't have much feedback on how it's going yet, but I still invite you to join me! Today's reading is Genesis 2 - a very fitting reading to share on a blog about marriage since the closing verses address why we marry!

God made Eve by physically taking part of Adam to use as a starter (any bakers out there?), so Eve was literally and physically part of Adam. For the rest of us, we are hopefully not physically part of our spouse but we are supposed to be that joined. Our love for our spouse should be at least as good as the love we have for ourselves (and read 1st Corinthians 13 to find out what love really is).

As I wrote this, a little lightbulb went off in my head - I don't really love myself very much. I'm not completely filled with self loathing, but I did struggle with severe depression earlier in life. The negative self-talk frequently bubbles up and I have to fight hard to keep it in check.

Yesterday, another friend on Facebook shared a video about the new Dove campaign. Dove set up a few women with an FBI forensic artist to do a blind sketch of them; the women sat behind a curtain and described themselves to the artist. The same women also spent the day with another person, who wasn't told why they were hanging out. Then Dove had the companions work with the FBI artist to do a sketch over the same women. The results are shocking. The companions' descriptions generated sketches very close to reality. The description from the woman being sketched generated some pretty sad - almost grotesque - portraits. Morale of the story: we women don't love ourselves enough.

And if you don't love yourself enough - how are you treating the other half of you?

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 NASB)

Monday, April 15, 2013

In The Beginning...

Yesterday, while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, an acquaintance's share caught my eye. Something like "60 things to do for a strong marriage". My mind must have churned on that for the rest of the evening - even as I laid awake 5 hours past my bedtime. I want a strong marriage. I want a Christ-centered marriage. I want to challenge myself to make my marriage grow.

I wondered if I could come up with 365 things to do for a strong marriage. Or if I could do one really out there thing each month. Then I wondered about how trite and forced that might seem, but a (hopefully) wise voice inside me said "sometimes you gotta fake it till you make it, right?"

Not that I would totally be faking anything. My husband and I love each other and we never fight (although we have our disagreements and frustrations). We are just fine, but are we missing out on "great"? I want to give my husband the best wife I can be - not a mediocre one!

Then I got to thinking - I know there are other women like me. We can learn from each other and encourage each other. We can challenge, uplift, and comfort each other. And so a blog was born...

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,  But she who shames  him  is like rottenness in his bones. (Proverbs 12:4 NASB)