Friday, October 21, 2011

Submission? But What About My Rights?

As I was counseling a young couple who are about to be married, I asked the young bride-to-be what she thought about the assignment in their premarital counseling workbook. The subject was a biblical perspective of marriage. She replied that she disagreed with the premise of submission. This was not a surprise. I don’t know many women who don’t cringe at that word whether they admit it or not. I asked her why she disagreed and she said, “I am a feminist by nature.” I thought, aren’t we all? I grew up in an old fashioned household, where I was taught biblical roles within the family, yet I still struggled with the need to fight for my rights. Isn’t this what Satan had in mind when he deceived Eve? Adam and Eve had a great thing going. They lived in a tropical paradise, had plenty of exotic food to eat, played all day, and had such good body confidence that they didn’t even wear clothes! They even walked and communed with God in the cool of the day. What more could they want? Satan, because he wanted to be God, convinced them that they too wanted to “become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil” (Genesis 3:5, NLT). They needed to fight for their rights. Unfortunately, this disobedience started a chain reaction that we deal with to this day. God explained the consequences of their choice:

Then he said to the woman, ‘You will bear children with intense pain and
suffering. And though your desire will be for your husband, he will be your
master.’ And to Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate the fruit I told you not to eat, I have placed a curse on the ground. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. All your life you will sweat to
produce food, until your dying day. Then you will return to the ground from
which you came (Genesis 3:17-19, NLT).

Thanks a lot Adam and Eve. If it weren’t for the two of you we would still be frolicking in Paradise with no belly buttons. For women, no 36-hour labors, no jockeying for position with our husbands. And for men, no 70-80 hour workweeks, or overachievement needed. The plan was for us to forever enjoy a perfect and sinless life, but because of the deceptive notion that if we could be God or at least be like God, they believed Satan’s lies and sinned. That sin caused us to think we are entitled.

If any of you has not seen the new movie, “Courageous,” please don’t wait any longer. Take the whole family and see it while it is still in the theater. It is a great film about the courage it requires for men and women to fully resolve and commit themselves to live for what matters most. Alex and Stephen Kendrick, writers and directors of the movie, asked the question, “What if we let go of the baggage of our past, clarified our convictions, and then pursued faithfulness to God, our marriages, and children for the rest of our lives? Many great men and women in Scripture and in recent history have defined and then lived by their own personal resolution” (Kendrick Bros., 2011). The book, The Resolution For Women, by Priscilla Shirer is the counterpart to the book, The Resolution For Men, which is based on this film. I highly recommend this book, which lists 13 resolutions “that will bring you all the blessings and joys of a life in pursuit of God’s best” (Kendrick Bros, 2011). In the chapter on being Purposefully Feminine, Shirer discusses the subject of submission. She states,

Throughout the first wave of the feminist movement, which began during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well the second major wave in the 1960s, the basis for each initiative was a clamoring for rights. And while some of these rights have been worth defending, such movements have primarily been crusades to position women not only on equal footing with men but above men- in some cases above God Himself. Yet in these various quests for recognition, each movement has failed to recognize the most powerful right of all women: the right to yield to appropriate authority willingly and with dignity (p. 44).

I’m sure I just lost some of you, but isn’t this exactly what God predicted? And, if you will stay with me, you will see that even Jesus, who was the most powerful man who ever lived, demonstrated this principle.

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8, NLT).
Shirer goes on to say,

If One so great could display this level of humility in order to achieve a much, much greater result, then what excuse do we have for not choosing to do the same—to forego our supposed rights in order to acquiesce to God’s designated plan for humanity? To trust His wisdom and insight? To bring Him the most glory, whether we get our way or not?

Yet a role reversal has been perpetuating our culture. And its effects have been staggering. Women have usurped the authority of men; men have passively neglected their roles as leaders. The result has been broken families, unstable homes, unhealthy dynamics, and derailed legacies. Marriages have cratered. Living rooms have become war zones. Iron wills have clashed and sparked and fractured personalities, melting everyone within sight (p. 45).

God shows us in his Word how to live according to his designed plan. I can understand how it can be seen as controversial, but if you read it in context, you will see that the Creator God knows us and how we operate, and has given us the best way to live in harmony and peace. He says:

So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don’t act
thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you…and further, you will submit to one another out of
reverence for Christ. You wives will submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the Church; he gave his life to be her Savior. As the Church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything. And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the Church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word…in the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. (Ephesians 5:15-28, NLT).

I know it is a matter of perception for each person who reads this, but it sounds wonderful to me. That is, if I can actually pull it off. I don’t know about you, but being married to a man who is willing to lay down his life for me with no hesitation whatsoever is an amazing feeling. And even though I sometimes don’t recognize it and often don’t appreciate it, my happiness is of the utmost important to him. Laura Doyle, in her book, The Surrendered Wife, puts it this way:

It may not seem like it, but your husband wants to shower you with things that you love. As long as he knows you respect him, all you have to do is tell him what you want or don’t want…Whenever he can, the husband of a surrendered wife will gladly respond to these words because one of his foremost goals is to make his wife happy (Doyle, 2001, p. 80).

Is that true husbands?

I kind of like this word “surrender” better than the other S word. It sounds a bit more like something I voluntarily lay down. I give up my rights so that I may serve my husband more. My husband will lay down his life to protect me. I think what Paul is teaching us in Ephesians is how to out-serve one another. If we can get beyond our own selfishness and think about the needs and desires of the other person, we can serve him or her more fully; and though we will do it without expecting any glory or anything in return, we might be surprised at how we are rewarded in kind. In a nutshell, John, the baptist, speaking of Jesus said, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30, KJV). I like the way my friend, David, interprets this verse: "He must come into full bloom, and I must wither away." This is true servanthhood and surrender. And I have seen David and his wife Beverley model this for years by serving each other.

Doyle describes a surrendered wife:

A surrendered wife is:

Vulnerable where she used to be a nag
Trusting where she used to be controlling
Respectful where she used to be demeaning
Grateful where she used to be dissatisfied
Has faith where she once had doubt

Likewise, In the book, What Makes a Woman Feel Loved, Emilie Barnes encourages men: “one way in which a woman feels loved is when her husband puts down the newspaper, turns off the TV, and gives her his full attention. And, men, she doesn’t always want you to solve the problems she mentions. She just wants to know that you care enough to listen” (Barnes, 2007, p. 41).

Is this true wives?

Certainly, there are those who take advantage of their mate, especially husbands who are controlling and abusive. I’m not speaking to those jerks (you know who you are). That’s a subject for another blog. I’m talking to most people who really want to have a strong and intimate marriage. In my experience, I have found that most women want to respect their husbands and most men want to love their wives. They just don’t know how.

This is where Marriage Education comes in. Spend some time reading good books about marriage, hang out with other loving, committed couples, seek a good Christian counselor or marriage coach who will help you focus on the right things, teach you principles, and give you tools to help you build a strong marriage. I really applaud all the young engaged couples I have seen lately in my practice for their willingness to get premarital counseling. They will not regret it. They will have an advantage over couples who slide into marriage without preparation. But it’s never too late to start.

It is not easy by any means. And I certainly have not perfected the principle of surrendering to my husband, as he can tell you, but I know it is the godly and right thing to do. And I know, from personal experience, that it works to both our benefits and is a great testimony to our children, grandchildren, and a watching world. It’s a matter of giving up our rights, understanding our God- given roles in marriage, trusting that the Creator God knows what he is doing, and surrendering to his will.

I would love to know your thoughts on this much-debated topic.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Take Every Thought Captive

So, I took a break for a couple of months- not because I wanted to, but because of a lot of things. In order for me to reveal those things, I have to do the thing I dread most in life- be vulnerable. I despise being vulnerable. It seems weak to me. You see, in my family, I am the strong one. I’m the one who always has it together, always has a plan, and always has the wherewithal to accomplish my objectives. To be seen as needy or discouraged is out of the question! A couple of years ago, I was in a pretty bad car accident and was injured. Not seriously, but enough to scare my family to death. They all walked around me like they didn’t know what to do. I could tell that they wanted to help me, but I am the one who is the helper and tells everyone what to do in times like these, and to see me in that state seemed to throw everyone off. (My hubby, of course, took great care of me but that’s not what this story is about. Even he was terrified).

This has been a discouraging and disappointing year for me in a lot of ways. I know, I know, I’m not supposed to get disappointed or discouraged. I should know all the techniques for fighting depression and loneliness. I have a degree in Marriage and Family for heaven’s sake, so I should have the perfect marriage, especially if I’m going to give you advice on how to do it, right? And I should know how to cope with relationships gone awry because I have read every book I can fit into my Kindle about them. I should know all about how to manage two businesses, keep the perfect house, entertain guests, nurture my growing family, all the while not complaining because I am the most organized person I know. In my spare time, I should easily be able to find time to work on my PhD and have personal Bible study and time with the Lord. I’m disappointed and discouraged with myself because I really believe all these things and because I have not lived up to my expectations.

I’m going to expose myself in a way that might get me in trouble with some people and, frankly, that scares me. But I’m going to do it anyway, because I feel like I have given the impression that I’m perfect or that I think I am. And because I know that many of you, especially women, go through seasons of disappointment too, and I don’t want you to feel alone.

At the end of the year last year, something happened between my parents and me that has just thrown me into a tailspin. The details would bore you, I’m sure, but nevertheless it was devastating to me. The bottom line is that the message I received from my mom and especially my dad is that they don’t want me. They don’t approve of me, my husband or my children. Their reasoning is irrational to me- maybe not to them, but whatever it is that they have against me, their rejection of me, and everything important to me, has crushed my spirit. At 51 years of age, I feel like a big baby; I have cried until I think there are no more tears and then I cry some more. I don’t think we ever lose the desire for our mama or our daddy to love us and want us and to think we are great. This “thing” started my year off bad and I’ve been limping along trying to forget about it and put it out of my mind and move on. As most women do, I want to talk about it to get it off my chest, but my husband and children aren’t as closely tied to these horrible feelings I have and my siblings are obviously trying to remain neutral. So, I suffer in silence most of the time, wondering if it will ever be right. Now, I can just imagine what you are thinking: “But you are a counselor. Just do what you would tell a counselee to do.” Therein lies the rub. It’s much easier to see the bigger picture from the outside than from the inside, no matter how much knowledge you have.

My son has given me an incredible gift. Most people use that word incorrectly and too often, but I really mean incredible- as in inconceivable, far-fetched, absurd, simply not believable. He gave me a brand new, state-of-the-art, fabulous Viking kitchen! It was meant for him, but he chose to give it to me, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic or grateful. It is stunning- stainless steel appliances, beautiful cobalt blue gas range and hood, dishwasher, an island cook top with a huge overhead vent, and too many small appliances to count. Toaster, coffee maker, stand mixer, emersion blender, hand mixer, cookware, knives and more. You’re wondering, “How could this possibly relate to disappointment?” Well, along with the gift of the kitchen came a kitchen renovation. Do I really need to say more? My husband and I have argued over every conceivable thing that would need to be argued over and everything beyond that. It has taken a toll on our relationship like nothing has in a long, long time. It has been exhausting, as we have done most of the work ourselves. We usually thrive as a couple when we get involved in a shared project, but this one was really huge. The arguments have me at a loss. I’ve been sort of stumped.

But as always happens, God led me to my answer. I walked into Lifeway to get a card and glanced at the latest best sellers, and there was a book by John and Stasi Eldredge, Love and War. I have no idea why that caught my eye. We are not in a war (are we)? I picked it up and read a tiny bit and bought it. I highly recommend that you run out and get this book or download it on your e-reader immediately. He talked about where we allow our thoughts to go. And I have certainly let my thoughts run wild lately. My parents’ silence causes me to assume all kinds of things. And you know what they say happens when you assume? (You make an ass out of you and me). I learned that from Felix on The Odd Couple- but I digress. When Jay and I have unresolved issues and talking about them turns into arguing, my thoughts go like this: He will never understand me. He obviously doesn’t care about me. He doesn’t know me at all. He just doesn’t get it. All he ever thinks about is himself.

II Corinthians 10:5 says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (KJV).

The Eldredges break it down like this:

“Satan is a liar, ‘the father of lies’ (John 8:44), so utterly convincing he deceived a glorious man and woman to betray God, whom they walked with every day. I think we tend to dismiss Adam and Eve as the idiots who got us into this mess in the first place. But they had not yet sinned; they had experienced no wounding; they were man and woman in their glory. And they were deceived. It ought to give us a healthy respect for what the enemy is capable of.

“Even the best of us can be taken in. Now what this father of lies does is put his ‘spin’ on a situation. It typically comes as a ‘thought’ or a ‘feeling.’ She doesn’t really love me. He’ll never change. She’s always doing that. (By the way, when the word ‘always’ is a part of the equation, you know you are well on your way into an agreement.)…What Satan is hoping to secure from us is an ‘agreement,’ a very subtle shift in us, where we believe the spin, we go with the feeling, and we accept as reality the deception he is presenting. (It always feels so true.) Just settle for what you’ve got. Don’t risk being hurt again. Once we buy into the lie and make the agreement, we come under the spell and come under the influence of that interpretation of events. Then it pretty much plays itself out; it becomes self-fulfilling. These agreements begin to define the relationship. They certainly color the way we experience one another. It can be devastating to just let this stuff roll on unchecked and unchallenged. Look what happened to Adam and Eve.”

Is this what has been happening in my life? I think so. Though Adam and Eve had no baggage or previous wounds or assumptions coming into their marriage, they still allowed the enemy to creep in and come between them. He convinced them. I know my husband loves me, but lately I haven’t felt it. My thoughts have gotten the best of me and overridden what I know to be true. I am certain that my parents love me, but this estrangement has birthed all kinds of thoughts. True or not, what I need to do is bring these thoughts into captivity, instead of allowing my thoughts to hold me captive. But this is difficult. How can it be done? The Eldredges suggest:

“The first thing we want you to do is recognize what is happening as the enemy presents an agreement, and give it no quarter. Fight it, resist it, and send it packing to the outer reaches of hell. Recognize what is at stake here. The kingdom teeters on the hundred small choices we make every day.

“Now, many of these agreements are already deeply rooted in our lives. Some of them are so historic and familiar we barely even recognize them. So, how do we acknowledge them?”

That’s the tough part, isn’t it? These authors recommend asking God to reveal them to you. Ask, “Lord, what are the agreements I have been making about my marriage?” And then ask him to help you break them. This makes so much sense to me. Especially when I have been blessed with the greatest man I know. I know he loves me, I know he cares for me, and I know he has my best interests at heart. He shows me in a thousand ways every day by working hard to provide for us, by being faithful, by being a good dad. Somehow, lately, I have let thoughts hold me captive and have felt like I am in a prison of loneliness, dwelling on those thoughts. Lord, show me where I have made agreements with the enemy so that I may break them and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Successful in Love and Life

Are you successful in love and life? Do you ever wonder what it takes to get there? I read a great book recently that gives some insight into what it takes to live life with success. The following review is of 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life by Henry Cloud. I think you may be surprised at what he uncovered about successful people.

In 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life, Henry Cloud describes his recurring feeling of déjà vu every time he encountered certain people. This feeling nagged him until he finally figured out that the pattern these individuals followed, and the characteristics they possessed, all led to one conclusion: “they were all successful in life” (p. 3). Cloud uncovers nine things successful people implement into their lives, shows the reader how they do it, and provides ways for all of us to do the same.

Principle 1: Dig it Up

Cloud begins by helping the reader unearth the buried treasure of his or her passion, because this is what “makes relationships alive and keeps them growing” (p. 26). He encourages people to cultivate their talents, dreams, and the desires of their heart for “it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23, NKJV). So many people drift along through life in a proverbial dingy with no oar, allowing circumstances to be their guide. Or they are led by fear stemming from past experiences. This fear causes them to be completely out of touch with the very center of life itself. Marriages become stale when couples neglect to encourage each other’s God-given passions. When boredom sets in, a slow drift happens and before they know it, the dingy is too far from the shore. Cloud admonishes that, “we are given a heart full of treasure and talent, feelings and desires…God has granted to us a heart, mind, and soul full of potential realities for whatever our situation might be” (p. 31). So, start digging! Find out where those passions lie.

Principle 2: Pull the Tooth

Cloud not only urges the reader to dig up the good things, but to deal with the bad as well. Successful people get rid of negative energy drains to make room for positive things. There is no room for hope when life is full of negativity. Sometimes, it hurts to remove something that will feel so good once it is gone. Cloud put it this way: Successful people “get rid of bad stuff. Period. Sometimes quickly and sometimes through a process, but they get rid of it. They get it out of their hair, off their plate, out of their souls, and out of their lives. They do not allow negative things to take up space in their lives, draining them of energy and resources” (p. 45). Are there negative things taking up space in your life? Get rid of them.

Principle 3: Play the Movie

In order to be successful for the long haul, one must look into the future to see how his or her life might play out. The wise person will “play the movie” (p. 72) of his life to see if it ends well. He or she will then adjust the plot, create new scenes, and gather a cast of characters that will bring the desired end. Cloud states that, “Any one thing you do is only a scene in a larger movie. To understand that action, you have to play it out all the way to the end of the movie” (p. 72). In my counseling practice, I like to ask people to picture themselves on their deathbed with their family and loved ones around them. Try it. What kinds of things will you want to hear? Will the memories be filled with what you wish for now? Play the movie in your mind, and determine if it is on track to be a blockbuster. Alter scenes if necessary. Or add scenes and build characters. Get new direction, but don’t continue to expend energy into what might be a flop.

Principle 4: Do Something

Once successful people have played the movie, they do not sit around waiting for life to happen to them. They take the initiative to do something about it. Beside digging deep to find their passion, getting rid of the negative, and thinking ahead to what the future may look like, successful people tend to look to themselves first to find ways to correct difficult situations. Cloud notes that “it does not matter whether they think they are to blame or not. Even if someone else is at fault, they will ask themselves, What can I do to make things better?” (p. 98). The successful person faces into life and is not passive, but active, “going toward life, not away from it” (p. 101). They are not afraid of the future and what might happen. Cloud says he has “never seen successful people stall out because of some feared, anticipated, or hypothetical outcome” (p. 101). Are you stalled because of fear? If you want to be successful, you must be proactive through the fear. Do something instead of nothing.

Principle 5: Act Like and Ant

Wise people do this one step at a time. They do not bite off more than they can chew; therefore they do not get discouraged. Proverbs tells us to consider the ant: “Take a lesson from the ant, you lazy bones. Learn from their ways and be wise! Even though they have no prince, governor, or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter” (Proverbs 6:6-8, NLT). Ants do this a tiny bit at a time, but they make amazing progress by focusing on the steps. Sometimes we want what we want right now and skip important steps, taking shortcuts. Cloud warns that, “all-or-nothing thinking keeps people stuck in destructive ruts” (p. 129). Successful people value the tiny steps that need to be taken to fulfill an objective. How do you eat an elephant? That’s right, one bite at a time. What do you need to get done today? Start by taking a little bite, and then another, and another……

Principle 6: Hate Well

Those are some pretty strong words. But as you read, you find out that Cloud shows how the things people hate define them as well as the things they love. People are less attracted to what they dislike. The wise and successful person learns to hate the things God hates. Paul says in Romans 12:9, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (NIV). Cloud suggests that our hating the right things benefits us by helping move us against the things we don’t want to be or do. He says, “in that way we eliminate the danger of having it become a part of us, as we do not allow ourselves to become attached to it” (p. 144). It also gives us reason to protect what we value. Cloud instructs us to turn subjective hate into objective hate by transforming “it to the kind of hate that solves problems, protects things that you value, and stands against the things that you do not want in your life” (p. 153). Think about some things in your life you need to start hating.

Principle 7: Don’t Play Fair

Should everything in life be fair? Cloud suggests that if you go through life playing fair you will ruin all your relationships. He states, “fair is giving good things to others as long as they give good things to us. Then if they fail us in some way, we respond ‘fairly’” (p. 173). The Bible says to “conquer evil by doing good” (Romans 12:21, NLT) which means give back better than you are given. Successful people give out of a pure heart and not merely to receive in return. They will be rewarded as a by-product anyway. And when someone does them wrong, successful people have learned to not seek revenge. As Cloud writes, “Revenge is for immature people, and they know that ultimately the offending person is going to get what he deserves without his needing to bring it about” (p. 186). Next time you want to play fair, consider instead tipping the scales with love, grace, and pardon.

Principle 8: Be Humble

Humility is the eighth principle commonly applied by successful people. Cloud explains that being humble is simply being “who he or she really is, a human being like everyone else, avoiding the need to be more than that” (p. 193). When one is humble, one can identify with others (p. 194). However, having humility does not mean that one is a doormat. Cloud asserts that, “self-confidence does not come from seeing oneself as strong, without flaws or above making mistakes. Self-confidence and belief in yourself comes from accepting flaws and mistakes and realizing that you can go forward and grow past them, and that you can learn from them” (p. 199).

Principle 9: Upset the Right People

Successful people know how to do what is right even when it means upsetting someone. As Cloud says, “déjà vu people do not make decisions based on the fear of other people’s reactions” (p. 215). Doing what you know you should do, and someone else’s response to that are two different issues. Successful people “do what they need to do, and then figure out the best way to handle the situation with the other person’s feelings” (p. 221). Sometimes saying “no” is the best thing you can do. Don’t live your life trying to appease everyone. As Cloud states, “you cannot speak the truth, live out good values, and choose your own direction without disappointing some people” (p. 233).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Celebrity, Hospitality, and Family

This past weekend I attended the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival. It was one of the more enjoyable things I’ve done in awhile. The year so far has been exhausting and it was good to get away with my kids for a few days and have some good food, good wine, and meet some wonderful people. This weekend taught me a few things that I think might cross over into family life, if not married life.

My son was a “celebrity” chef headlining the event and I was ever the proud mother. It has been his dream since he was nine years old to be a chef/entertainer. I’m not surprised; he has been cooking for and entertaining our family for years. Nathan was one of seven “leading culinary personalities” and joined by over 60 of the greatest chefs in the South; some we have followed for years, being the foodie family that we are. I had the opportunity to meet Chris Lilly, Grand Champion of Memphis in May this year; John Besh, award winning chef and owner of restaurants in New Orleans, who has appeared on Top Chef Masters, and The Next Iron Chef; and the great Norman Van Aken, father of New World Cuisine and Fusion cooking, winner of innumerable awards including the prestigious James Beard List of Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. If you are not a “foodie” maybe this does not affect you like it did me, but these are rock stars in the culinary world! They have gained notoriety by hard work and intense training. Their celebrity is not merely about performance, glitz and glamour. It’s not just about making and eating great food; it’s about a way of life- a certain joie de la vie. It is certain that there are some celebrities who esteem themselves more highly than they ought, but these three chefs, all very different from each other, seemed to be enjoying life and the gifts God has given them, and not taking themselves too seriously. They didn’t appear to believe the hype about themselves and were more interested in teaching and sharing their knowledge and wisdom, and having fun than posing for paparazzi. Whether we are well known or not, Scripture calls us to:

Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ's body. We are all part of his one body. And each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.

God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly (Romans 12:3-8, NLT).

Take the steps to find out where your gifts lie, then go about using them gladly and to best of your ability. What is your passion? I’d love to hear from you.

This particular event was all about the South where hospitality reigns, but I believe that we are all called to hospitality. To learn about hospitality on a deeper level, I highly recommend Henri Nouwen’s Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. Nouwen’s description of hospitality is in much different terms than one would normally expect. He describes hospitality as “the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy” (p. 71). Many are fearful of empty space, feeling the need to occupy every corner in order to avoid pain, disappointment, or the uncertainty of change. In order to provide that place of welcome, these relationships must be ones of servanthood, not ownership. Nouwen suggests that there be a balance between grace and truth, and that a hospitable host will be one that has emptied his heart and mind and opened up space to be able to receive and welcome his guest. The all-around feeling at the Food and Wine Festival was one of true hospitality, something I don’t always feel in my everyday life. And something I sometimes neglect to offer, I’m ashamed to say. I am challenged to create a free space where strangers can enter and feel welcome.

The third thing that impressed me, and has stuck in my mind, was the reaction from people to our family. We mostly hung out together, except for Nathan who was working feverishly on his events. His uncle and aunt were there too in support of him and to have a good time. We all are very proud of him, but not because of any fame he has received- he is not famous to us. It is because of the man he has become, part of which is his devotion to his wife and family. This seemed to shock, impress, and endear people to all of us. I also loved that Chef Norman Van Aken was side-by-side with his son, Chef Justin, on a panel discussing the past, present, and future of Southern Cuisine. They obviously respected each other mutually and played off each other very naturally; making me wonder if this is something they do at the dinner table often. Janet, Norman’s wife and also a chef, was right by his side and I asked her if she accompanies him often. She told me that he didn’t like to travel and wouldn’t go if she didn’t go with him. I asked her how long they had been doing that, to which she replied, “almost 40 years.” I love that. They have been sharing in this joie de la vie for that many years, using the gifts God has given them, not esteeming themselves more highly than they ought and opening up a free space so that some strangers would instantly feel like friends. Inspiring.

Thank you for indulging me in one of my greatest passions. The only thing missing last weekend was my hubby, who would have absolutely loved it. He was in New Orleans at the International Rotary Convention with 20,000 other Rotarians, hanging out with Bill Gates, discussing the eradication of polio around the world. Am I dropping names or what?! I am very proud of him, as he is the incoming president of the Downtown Rotary Club in Tampa. It is quite the honor. I hope he doesn’t get a big head :-)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Far Above Rubies

My daughters turned me on to something cool. It’s called Project 365 and it involves posting a picture every day for a year on Facebook. It’s basically a visual journal of your life. I thought it was a great idea after viewing theirs for a few weeks, so I decided that I would do it. Keeping up with it isn’t as easy as I thought it would be, but it has been a lot of fun so far. I’ve only been doing it for less than a month but I’ve already noticed a pattern emerging. My pictures aren’t about work; they aren’t about the drama that sometimes takes place in my life; they don’t show the mundane drudgery about which I complain (although, there is one picture of my out-of-control ironing pile), and there aren’t pictures of problems that inevitably come up during my day. They are pictures of things I love, like my crazy, wonderful family, my precious Bible, my Kindle, which holds hundreds of books, the steaming cup of coffee my hubby brings me every morning, helping my daughter make a beautiful cake, crispy roast chicken, motorcycle trips with my man, days at Disney with my grandsons, the quilt I’m making and other visuals of things that are important to me. Of course, I try to choose photos that I think people will like. I think long and hard before I push that button. Facebook, for all its good, can be quite evil if used for the wrong reasons. But I began to see that the pictures I chose to portray “me” to my “friends” reflect who I really am as a person.

When my grandmother died several years ago, I traveled to Mississippi for her funeral. Actually we called it a celebration service, and celebrate we did. My grandmother had nine children and I am the oldest of 26 grandkids. There were hundreds of people in the church auditorium that day and most of them were family. We took up the whole middle section. Hundreds of southerners singing “I’ll Fly Away” is not something you usually hear at a funeral, but she would have loved it. I had been asked to give the Scripture reading on behalf of all the grandchildren and, though I have the gift of gab on paper, I am terrified in front of a large group, even if it is family. But I agreed to do it, because Mamaw would have tanned me if I refused. I knew I had to find just the right passage for my grandmother. I LOVED my Mamaw and she loved me. I knew she did because she told me so and showed me in so many ways. She taught me how to sew and told me that she “could beat anybody at blind hemming.” She helped me learn how to be a good cook, though it was always hard to get an exact recipe out of her. She would say, “oh I just put a little of this, or a smidgen of that,” but her biscuits and homemade jam were to die for. To this day, when I’m making collard greens or blackeyed peas, and my kitchen smells like hers, it takes me back for a minute and I can feel her presence. She would get up at an ungodly hour and make a full breakfast for whoever was in her household at the time. Waking up to the smell of bacon and coffee in her kitchen is one of my most revered memories. Whatever time you sauntered in, she was ready for you, but you had to sit down and talk to her and read “Our Daily Bread” with her. No sooner had she finished the breakfast dishes, with my help of course (laziness was not tolerated), than she started on lunch (or dinner, as we say in the south- supper is the last meal of the day). If you wanted to eat, you had to help her pick veggies from her garden and either shuck, hull, snap, or perform some other technique before they could be cooked. Many times I accompanied her to folks’ homes to deliver her homemade goods. She was generous to a fault and modeled it to me. She treated each of her nine children as if he or she were the only one, yet they were all responsible for each other. I remember many nights singing together and the sounds of familial voices were, no doubt, a pleasing aroma to the Lord she taught us to love. Hours were spent playing board games and card games. They never had much money, but she somehow figured out a way to get everybody a Christmas present, and I always loved that she thought of me (even if it was socks or giant, white, cotton panties). And she adored my grandfather. As a matter of fact, she was healthy as could be her whole life but did not live long after he died, a common occurrence for couples who have been “one” for over 60 years. I could go on and on and on about my beautiful grandmother and how much she meant to me. As I thought about all these things in preparation for her celebration service, I turned to my Bible and it plopped open to Proverbs 31. I read it, and looked no further. This passage was about Mamaw!

“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She will not hinder him but will help him all her life.

She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchant's ship; she
brings her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her
household and plan the day's work for her servant girls. She goes out to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She watches for bargains; her lights burn late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.

She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.

She has no fear of winter for her household because all of them have warm clothes. She quilts her own bedspreads. She dresses like royalty in gowns of finest cloth.

Her husband is well known, for he sits in the council meeting with the other civic leaders.

She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule when she gives instructions. She carefully watches everything that goes on in her household and does not have to bear the consequences of laziness.

HER CHILDREN STAND AND BLESS HER. HER HUSBAND PRAISES HER. There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise” (Proverbs 31: 10-31, NLT).

When I got to the church, my Uncle, Mike, asked me if I wanted to read from her Bible, and he handed it to me. I had to sit down because my knees buckled a little. I’d seen her reading it many times, but suddenly it held such power. I knew that it had been her light and her salvation, her strength and guide. I opened it and began to touch the pages that her hands had touched and I wanted to touch those hands again. I noted the verses that she had underlined and read the little notes she had written in the margins and wondered how in the world I would be able to get through my reading. Sorrow and love flow mingled down. As I got to the stage and sat down next to my dad, who was giving the message for the service, I told him I felt unsteady and if he noticed my knees shaking to catch me if I fainted. He encouraged me to be strong, so when it was my turn, I stepped up to the podium with my Bible and hers underneath it. The shell of her precious body lie just beneath me, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. As I read, I interjected some humor, which is the only way I can get through something like this, and the crowd seemed to respond, but I kept my head down the entire time for fear of making eye contact with my mother or my uncle, Steve, or my aunt, Lynn, or any of those grieving their own mother’s death, thereby sending me over the edge. When I got to the verse that said, “Her children stand and bless her” I felt movement and out of the corner of my eye I knew something was going on, so I looked up and all nine of her children had spontaneously jumped to their feet and blessed their mother. Thank God there was only one verse left. That was one of the most amazing and poignant moments of my life. It was not rehearsed. It was nine children who honored their mother for the godly woman she was and for whom they publicly declared praise.

That moment was a turning point in my life. I decided right then and there how I wanted my life to be celebrated when it is over. I want my husband to be able to trust me; I want to greatly enrich his life. I want to help him and not hinder him my whole life. I want to be an energetic and hard worker, making sure my family is warm and fed and taken care of. I want to help others. I want to laugh with no fear of the future because my hope in is God. I want to be wise and kind with my instructions. I want to help my husband and my children and grandchildren reach their fullest potential and I want with all my heart for them to “rise and call me blessed.” I am certainly not there yet, but I am passionate about getting there. When I looked back over the pictures that I posted on Facebook, I felt like I was getting closer. Think about the things that are important to you. Will yours be a funeral or a celebration service? If you’ve placed your hope in Christ, it will be a celebration of your home going. Picture your celebration service and the things that people will say about you, especially your spouse and your children. Will they stand and bless you? What do the pictures of your life say about you? I’d love to hear from you.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Springtime of Marriage

On Sunday, March 13th, we will change our clocks to Daylight Saving Time again. I am one of those people who would like to see it stay this way permanently. I absolutely love having more sunshine and longer days. I am fully aware that there are some who disagree, but this is my blog, so... To me it is another new beginning; somewhat like January, but this time without the expectation and guilt of making resolutions. Spring brings something else, something new. It is the awareness that what is dead becomes alive again; that from the cold, hard ground peeks a tulip or a daffodil. I live in the beautiful state of Florida where the weather is mostly warm, but the last few winters have proven to be a little harsh for us sun lovers (don't hate). I lost a huge, gorgeous Hibiscus tree to a freeze, and my elephant ears, which are a natural window treatment, froze to death and were bowing on the ground in sadness. But only weeks since, new gigantic leaves are popping up and I can once again enjoy the view of them from my kitchen window. I can't tell you the joy this brings me. The Hibiscus, however, will not be coming back, but has already been replaced with pots of impatiens and petunias. What does this have to do with marriage you say? Well... I think it is a great metaphor for what happens in relationships. Just as there are seasons in nature, marriages go through seasons as well. In the book Creating an Intimate Marriage by Jim Burns, I had to laugh at Stephen Arterburn's Foreward. In it he describes the "spring" of a relationship:

"Most everyone who marries has high hopes and expectations of an intimate marriage. While dating, we try to eliminate the other potentials who just don't seem to have all that we want and need in a spouse. And then, somehow we stumble onto someone that starts the adrenaline pumping, the eyes sparkling, and the dreams developing. High hopes and low maintenance keep the relationship humming along toward Holy Matrimony. You find yourself so in love that just hearing the other person breathe so melts you that it is obvious you are in the presence of a soul mate. Hours and hours of talking prove that this is the real thing as poetic and profound words stream forth from your mouths. Shakespeare would not have the words to describe these feelings of romance, and there is nothing left to do but make plans and start shopping for rings."

Isn't that the way we feel in the springtime? The sky is bluer, the birds are singing sweetly, romance is everywhere and all is right with the world. Arterburn doesn't stop there. In an exaggerated account, he comes to the conclusion that there is something secretly added to the wedding cake and once it is eaten, things seem to change:

"Shortly after the icing has been wiped from each other's lips it starts to feel like the other partner just does not get it when it comes to meeting needs. Weren't they listening during those days of courtship? And from where did all these demands from the other side come? What was low maintenance now needs more attention than a Yugo. The Prince came with a horse and the daily task seems to be to clean up after the beast, whichever one fits that classification. The Princess came with nails and they must be allowed to dry and remained undamaged for a fortnight. Your soul mate seems more like a cold mate and you find yourself in a stalemate.

Holy Matrimony is now filled with phrases like Holy Moses and Holy Toledo and Holy Moley because the partnership causes some very unholy reactions. Even your partner's breathing is so irritating that private bedrooms may be an option if a cork does not work. Rather than words more beautiful that Shakespeare, all you want to do is shake your partner, and a spear seems like a handy tool to have lying around the house. For months it felt like you were on drugs and now you may have to resort to them if things don't pick up soon. The only people you are more disappointed in than your spouse are all of the married couples who knew this was going to happen but refused to let you in on their little secret, because misery loves company."

What Arterburn is describing in his comical summary is what happens in most marriages. Of course the spring is followed by summer where some of the initial romantic feelings are replaced by the comfortableness of routine as we figure out how to do life as a couple and maybe add some kids to the mix. But, in some marriages, autumn and winter can bring a coldness that can damage or kill a marriage. Author, Gary Chapman, in his book, The Four Seasons of Marriage, writes:

"If we respond well, in harmony with our spouse, we can keep our marriage in spring or summer. If we don't respond well or if our response clashes with our spouse's response, we can feel the chill of autumn or be thrust into the icy cold of winter-sometimes before we know what hit us."

I believe that "responding well" means honoring our commitment to our spouse even during those chilly and dreary seasons. I agree with Larry Crabb, who writes in his book, The Marriage Builder:

"If we deeply believe that the Lord is able to work on our behalf in all circumstances, then no collection of marital setbacks will prompt us to seriously consider divorce or withdrawal. If God is really as powerful as He claims to be, then the path of obedience will always lead to His intended purposes. The hope (better, the certainty) that God is at work to accomplish His plan even in the most difficult of marriages must remain firmly rooted in our awareness of His powerful grace."

Dr. Crabb views Christian marriage in the context of God's provision and our needs this way:

"All my needs are completely met in Christ. The riches of heaven are mine. I am called to believe this. And God has given me a taste of what lies ahead to excite my faith. The problem, sadly, is that very few Christians have really tasted and seen that the Lord is good. The joy of fellowship in Christ and service in His name is less than a thrilling reality for too many Christians because of inadequate commitment to Him. But those who have cast their entire lot with Christ know something of the joy and peace He provides."

So, to summarize, Dr. Crabb declares that,

"If I have experienced the answer to my deepest longings in Christ, then I will be able to see past my longings and discern my wife's needs; and when I see her needs, then my experience of satisfaction with Christ will create in me a deep desire to promote similar satisfaction in my wife."

Of course, this goes for husbands too. It's this commitment that leads us back to the springtime of our marriage. We have tasted and seen the goodness from the beginning of our relationship. Sometimes we simply need to revisit that and remember what it felt like and how it was. My commitment to my husband, in a simplistic way, is like my commitment to my elephant ears. They bring me such joy, but when they shrivel up and die because of a hard freeze, I know they will come back even stronger because I have experienced this time and again. In a more spiritual sense, I know that God is faithful- I have experienced His faithfulness time and again. Remembering His promises to me and truly believing that He will meet all my needs helps me to trust and believe in the commitment my husband and I made to each other on August 18th, 1978.

If your marriage is in the season of autumn or winter, remember that spring is coming and what was dead can be made alive again. A little pruning and TLC may be needed so get to it! As spring approaches, take the opportunity to look back and remember the spring of your marriage. Do something nostalgic. Last night, my husband and I went to see The Doobie Brothers at the Florida Strawberry Festival (don't laugh kids). We felt eighteen again, (even though they looked really old). It brought back old memories, reminded us of old times and brought us closer. Get out the wedding album, reminisce, and do something fun to bring back the spring. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

A Prayer in Spring

Robert Frost (1915)

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.


Click HERE to view The Rosberg's Date With a Purpose Marriage Link on "Demands and Doormats"

Click below for Becky Tirabassi's Change Your Life Daily Site:

Click below for The Intimate Couple

Click below for The Marriage Builder, by Larry Crabb

Click below for Jim Burns book, Creating an Intimate Marriage

Click below for The Four Seasons of Marriage, by Gary Chapman

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Celebrating Love

Ahhh…February, the month of love. I am fully aware that there are Valentine’s Day haters out there, but I, for one, think it’s nice to have a reminder to pay a little more attention to our sweetheart and spice things up in the romance department. And any holiday that involves chocolate, well, I’m for it. But then, I am a girl. I like chick flicks, and books about romance, especially if they live happily ever after. My nearly 33 years of marriage to my honey is the greatest joy of my life. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you can probably figure out that flowers and chocolate may not be in his mind, much less celebrating Valentine’s Day (unless he reads this blog). But we are both constantly aware that if we don’t maintain our relationship with regular time together at home, on special dates, or getting away on a trip, we can get in a lazy rut. That’s when we plan something, hop on the motorcycle and head out on the highway, or sit in the tub and drink wine, while discussing what we would do if we won the lottery. (No, we don’t play the lottery- it’s more about the tub and the wine). I can hear a collective “ewe” from all three of my kids.

As a Marriage and Relationship Coach and Educator, I constantly hear couples use words like “boring,” “in a rut,” “stale,” and “distant” to describe their relationships. This is really sad to me because it doesn’t have to be that way. It is true that life is busy, especially in these hard economic times. Stress levels are high, and we all have a lot on our minds, just trying to keep our heads above water, but a good, solid marriage filled with romance and fun is a great remedy for stress! I wonder how your husband’s mind would be calmed if you said something like this to him:

“Kiss me again and again, for your love is sweeter than wine. How fragrant your cologne, and how pleasing your name! No wonder all the young women love you! Take me with you. Come, let’s run! Bring me into your bedroom, O my king.”

I didn’t make that up (unfortunately). It came from Song of Solomon 1:1-4 (NLT). I think that would get my hubby’s attention- especially the bedroom part. But, men, pay attention to some things the king spoke back to his love:

“How beautiful you are, my beloved, how beautiful! Your eyes are soft like doves…compared to other women, my beloved is a lily among thorns” (1:15, 2:3).

What security that would bring to your wife’s heart- You think she is beautiful, and all those other women are thorns! I think we can learn a lot from the Songs of Solomon about ways to romance our spouses and how very important it is. I recommend on this Valentine’s Day, taking a little time and reading it to each other. If you never have, you may be in for a big surprise. It was written in code, because in Oriental times, it was so provocative and sensual that they didn’t want children understanding certain things before it was time. Try to figure out what was really being said, and then let me know what you come up with. If you are reading this in the newsletter, click here to comment on my blog:

Another great resource for recapturing the romance in your marriage is Gary and Barbara Rosberg’s 6 Secrets to a Lasting Love. Secret number five in their book is “Celebrating Love” and they share five ways to practice it in your marriage.

1. Put Each Other at the Top of the List

The Rosbergs suggest that, “quality time is a myth.” Couples need lots of time together away from kids and other responsibilities. Find enjoyable activities to do TOGETHER.

Here are some ways:

- “Put family second, right after your relationship with God

- Be cautious when making commitments outside your family

- Cultivate enriching relationships- don’t always hang out with people who sap your strength. While that is a ministry opportunity, make time to be around people who energize and encourage you.

- Make communication a priority in your relationships

- Let your body language demonstrate that your spouse is your priority”

2. Confess to Each Other

“Unresolved offenses block all kinds of intimacy- emotional, physical and spiritual.” Gary Rosberg encourages husbands to “take the lead to address the pain, close the loop, and restore intimacy.”

3. Get to Know Each Other Again

“How? Demonstrate your love by showing that you are deeply interested. Here are some ways:

- Study your spouse

- Really listen to each other

- Work alongside each other

- Try some of your old favorites again

- Get away together

- Be captivated by the love of your life”

4. Rethink Your Thinking

The Rosbergs share 2 coaching tips to get you started:

- “Be willing to fall in love with your spouse again- being in love begins in your mind with the choice to surrender to feelings of love. Only when you have made this basic choice can you train yourself to look for the good in your spouse and be glad for it.”

- “Control your thoughts. When a negative thought about your spouse comes along, arrest it, lock it behind bars, and throw away the key!”

5. Rekindle Romance and Physical Intimacy

“Shared emotional arousal between a husband and wife is a catalyst in the development of a passionate physical love. What a husband must realize is how his seemingly nonsexual activities help to satisfy his wife’s hunger for physical intimacy. At the heart of these nonsexual actions is the emotional bond of being friends…Husbands, don’t underestimate the power of the small signs of affection that communicate to your wife all day long that she is loved.”

“Few women understand the depth of anguish a husband feels when his need for sexual intimacy is not fully met…A husband whose wife ignores his drive for sexual intimacy feels rejected as a person and as a man. He often shuts down or pulls away…however, such actions can be averted if a wife is attuned to the depth of her husband’s need for physical intimacy.”

Read about Celebrating Love and the other 5 secrets in 6 Secrets to a Lasting Love

The Rosbergs have changed their Date With A Purpose link and given it a new look. Check it out:

Click HERE to view February’s Marriage Link - "Trust"

And check out Charla Muller’s 365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy

When Charla Muller’s husband turned 40, she wanted to give him something really special, something no one else could, and something he would never forget. She decided to give him the gift of intimacy. The Mullers had a pretty good marriage and two beautiful children. Everything was going smoothly except for one thing- their sex life was anything but exciting. They never made time for intimacy with each other anymore. This reality prompted Muller’s offer to give her husband the gift of sex every day for 365 days, in “a considerate and sincere attempt to bond via daily intimacy and connection” (p. 12). He, of course, graciously accepted her offer. Thus began their journey of learning what it takes to have a truly intimate marriage. I loved this book! It is a true love story.


Dr. Kevin Leman’s book, Sheet Music, is a great book about marital sex.

If you want info quick, browse Jim and Carrie Gordon’s website, The Intimate Couple, for all kinds of ideas about romance and sex for married couples. It’s spicy! Just sayin’

Finally, if you are bored and love academic reading, I wrote a paper about intimacy during graduate school and would love to share it with you. If you are interested, request it by emailing me at:

If you find any mistakes, don't worry- I already got my A. Enjoy.

I hope you are enjoying all the resources that I share with you. I think it is important to have a fully stocked toolbox in order to build a strong marriage and maintain it so that you will have a happy and fulfilling life and so that you will be ambassadors for Christ and be able to mentor other couples.

This Valentine’s Day I would love to receive flowers and there had better be chocolate, but I would love any one of the following ideas even more. These are more ideas from the Rosberg’s book, 6 Secrets to a Lasting Love:


- Be accessible to her- always! Tell her where you will be and how long you will be gone.

- Let your coworkers know you can always be interrupted when she calls.

- Repeat your wedding vows often. Tell her that if you had it to do all over again, you would choose her again- and again, and again.

- Continually promise and reassure her that your love for her and faithfulness to her is “till death do us part.”

- Invite her to tell you how she desires to be loved, then seek to love her that way.

- Give her a head-to-toe massage.

- Compliment her, especially for the little things.

- Send her flowers or chocolates or whatever little gifts she likes.

- Attend a marriage conference together. Take the initiative to locate one, make all the arrangements, including a babysitter if that is necessary.

- Lavish her with nonsexual touch.

- Call her during the day just to say hello.

- Put your arm around her or hold her hand in public.

- Say, “I love you” before she does. Begin and end each day with encouraging words.

- Write notes to her regularly telling her how proud you are of her.

- Hold her hands, and pray for her.

- Send her cards or love letters.

- Bring her breakfast in bed.

- Say, “I’m sorry” when you are wrong, and forgive her when she is wrong.

- Kiss for at least 10 seconds when you part in the morning and when you reunite at the end of the day.


- Send him off and welcome him home with a smile and a 10 second kiss.

- Let him know you’re glad he’s home, just because you love him, not because the sink is clogged or you need to get away from the kids.

- If you arrive home after your husband does, find him before you do anything else and tell him how glad you are to be home.

- Let him know you care. Buy a mushy card, and send it to his office, hide it in his briefcase, or slip it into the book he’s reading.

- Write down a list of reasons why you love him, then share the list with him over a romantic dinner.

- Leave him a surprise note with an encouraging Bible verse.

- Buy attractive nightwear for yourself- and hide his!

- Give him massages.

- Pray for him before he leaves for work.

- Join him in his favorite activity even if you aren’t crazy about it. Try doing with him some of the things he enjoys doing with his buddies.

- Say, “I’m sorry” when you are wrong and forgive him when he is wrong.

- Initiate sexual intimacy.

- Listen to his opinions on spiritual issues. Ask him what type of activities would fuel his spiritual growth. Don’t impose your ideas on him.

- Eat breakfast with him, and enter his world at the start of the day.

- Accept your body, and enjoy experimenting with him sexually.

I hope all these great tips for rekindling the romance in your marriage are helpful. You have no excuse for having a ho-hum marriage. I have given you plenty of tools to use. Start by reading Song of Solomon. Marriage was the Creator God's idea, after all.

One last thing, just for fun. If you want to see what can happen if you don't heed my advice, watch this video:

Thanks for reading. Your comments are welcomed.

And have Happy Valentine's Day!