When to Say Thanks

Say Thanks

My friend Rachael is getting married this year. She was my wedding planner extraordinaire, and I am attempting to return the favor this year as I plan hers.

Although Robby and I were married just six years ago, I had already forgotten how many details go into a wedding.

No Thanks!

One of those details that many brides forget about is the thank-you cards.

I never knew this was an issue until after our wedding. As soon as we got back from the honeymoon, I started writing thank you notes to all our friends and family members who supported us in one way or another, whether they threw us a party, donated to the honeymoon fund, or gave us a traditional gift. We took great care to let everyone know how much we appreciated them.

Then, we started to hear it.

I can’t believe you actually sent me a thank-you card! I haven’t received one of these in years!

 I just can’t thank you enough for my thank-you card! I thought proper etiquette was dead.

I was flabbergasted! I had no idea that people were actually foregoing this most basic of common courtesies.

The Faux Pas

Reputable wedding sites (such as Brides.com) still dictate that thank-you cards be handwritten and mailed within three months of the wedding (or within two weeks for engagement and bridal shower gifts). Yet an online search will prove that there is a pervasive trend of thanklessness. It’s so bad that jilted guests are threatening to stop bestowing gifts because no one seems to appreciate them.

Some speculate this might be an issue today because young couples feel a lavish reception is thanks enough for those who attended the wedding or gave them gifts. Well, it’s not. We want our thank-you cards!

The Responsibility

Now, the man may be the head of the household, but the woman is the CEO of Hospitality. It’s ultimately our responsibility to keep up with social etiquette, from ensuring the thank-you cards get mailed to stocking toilet paper in the guest bathroom. Guys just don’t think of this stuff.

It’s true that social norms change with the times. However, if you want to keep your friends and earn the respect of your new family (especially your mother-in-law), you’re going to have to write those thank-you cards.

The Heart Behind It

As Christians, everything we do is important because we’re representatives of God’s kingdom. Paul even wrote that we should perform all our work “heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:22-24 NAS).

Thankfulness, in particular, is something we should be ready to share because it’s rooted in love. Not only does love come from God, but Jesus commanded that we love one another as He loved us. Why? “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 NAS).

An Attitude of Gratitude

I’m so proud of my friend Rachael. She’s already purchased her thank-you cards, and she’s included the cost of stamps in her budget. Rachael is prepared to show her appreciation.

If you’re planning to get married soon, I encourage you to approach the thank-you list with an attitude of gratitude. Thank the Lord for your family and friends; thank Him for blessing you with a beautiful wedding, a great husband, and a new life together; thank Him for all the goodies that now fill your home. Then let that spirit of thankfulness overflow as you write to those who cared enough to support you. Your guests will thank you.

“I thank my God always concerning you…” (1 Corinthians 1:4a NAS).

Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

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*image by Lindsay Osborne.

 

 

Finding Romance… in the Little Things

Finding Romance in the Little Things

He left flowers on her windshield.

My oldest daughter had a long and arduous day. She told her boyfriend (now husband) that night that all she wanted was a good night’s sleep so she would be refreshed in the morning and ready for whatever God needed from her the next day. She awoke to a text, which led her out to her car, and there she found the lovely pink flowers. Romantic? Absolutely! It was one of those wonderful, sweet, blatantly romantic acts of young love.

I can almost hear my female readers saying “Awwwwww!” And the male readers saying either “nice move man” or “way to make the rest of us look bad!”. In our marriages, we women place a lot of emphasis on ‘romance’. We sometimes measure how much he loves us, or how content we are by the level of ‘romance’ in the relationship.

But what is romantic? Who decides what it means?  Google defines romance as “A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love” Too often we interpret that to mean fine dining by candlelight, soft music, exquisite jewelry, exotic vacations, flowers – definitely flowers, love notes and more. The entertainment industry reinforces this interpretation as do our own selective memories. We ‘girls’ remember the butterflies we felt when we were first in love and how he worked to woo us. And we disapprovingly define men as “not very romantic” if they do not find ways to directly express their love.

Many marriages experience a definite shift in the area of romance as years pass.  Husbands often forget how important it is to still pursue their wives, to reassure them of their love for them. For some reason, over time, most men become less direct and less verbal in expressing their love. And their women make the mistake of thinking the romance is gone. But is it? If you look closely you will see that men are still purposeful in ‘displaying’ their love. It just doesn’t look the same any more. I learned a long time ago that

romance is in the eye of the beholder.

 Think about it. What is the point of romance? To demonstrate love, right? So if you look for the ways love is demonstrated in a relationship, you will discover the romance! The man in your life may be more romantic than you think.

Every day I look for romance in the little things.

My husband knows I hate the hot weather, so my butterflies start fluttering when my precious husband picks up the floor fan and turns it so it blows on me. Or when, without comment, he puts another blanket on his side of the bed so I can have the fan on high. He loves me.

I melt when he gets in from work and comes to give me a kiss, then leans in to get one more. Or when we are walking and he tenderly takes my hand in his. He loves me.

He makes me smile when he treats a bowl of cereal as equally appealing as Sunday roast on nights when I am too weary to tackle cooking supper. Or when he happily joins me in watching a TV show when I know very well there is ‘game’ on. He loves me.

Do I still want to be surprised by an invitation to go out for a ‘romantic’ evening? Sure. Do I want to be wooed and pursued?  Absolutely! But in the meantime –

I am seeing romance all around me…in the little things!

Shellynne Wucher

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Perfection(ism) is My Enemy

Broken Together

I got a couple dents in my fender

Got a couple rips in my jeans,”

I once texted those lyrics from Free to Be Me by Francesca Battistelli to our oldest daughter.  She had received a car for graduation less than 6 months earlier and had just been in her second accident.  She seemed to have somehow missed the lesson on blind spots or she was distracted on that day or something . . . but at that point she was discouraged.  Because she loved this song, I knew exactly how she would respond to my text:

“Try to fit the pieces together

But perfection is my enemy.”

Perfection is my enemy.  I found myself singing those lyrics again a few months later as I worked on a project.  I had two canvases I wanted to hang above our bed.  I wanted the words, “Broken Together” painted on them.  If you haven’t heard this song by Casting Crowns you should listen to it.  REALLY. It is a song that greatly ministered to me and my husband as we were going through a time of great brokenness and we have continued to try to hold on to its truths.

“Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete.
Could we just be broken together?
. . . The only way we’ll last forever is broken together.”

I had considered having a friend who is much better at lettering, paint the canvases for me, but there was a part of me that felt I should do it myself.  I was very hesitant, however, because I knew it wasn’t going to look as good if I did it.  It wouldn’t be perfect.

Sure enough my perfectionist tendencies kicked in as I was painting.  At one point I was in tears, painted over everything I had done and started over.  It was during my second attempt that I found myself singing those Free to Be Me lyrics, “perfection is my enemy.”

You’ve probably already picked up on the irony of this, but I was a little slow.  I was literally painting the word BROKEN and was trying not to get frustrated because it was not perfect when it finally hit me . . . brokenness and perfection can’t coexist.  I was going to have to decide which one I was going to embrace; it couldn’t be both.  I chose broken.

Now at that point I didn’t just start slapping the words on the canvas with no thought or care, but I did let go of the need for it to be just right and stopped trying to correct every little mistake.  And there were mistakes – parts that weren’t just right, but these became reminders that I am not just right either.  Neither is my spouse.  Neither is our marriage.

Later I found myself in tears again, but this time they were not tears of frustration but tears of gratitude.  I had been painting in the garage and brought the canvases inside.  I set them up in a window sill in the kitchen to finish drying.  I was getting some water at the sink, turned to look at the paintings and right there between the O and K, I saw it. . . a cross.  The frame of the canvas had a vertical piece in the middle and there was a random streak of darker paint going across and as the light came through the window you could see it – the cross.

I said earlier that brokenness and perfection cannot coexist, but that is not entirely true.  There is a place where they coexist beautifully.  On the cross the body of Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, was broken for my sin.  He who knew no sin, became sin, so that I could receive his righteousness.  (2 Corinthians 5:21) Because Christ, the perfect, sinless, spotless lamb chose to be broken and die for my sin, I am now viewed by my Heavenly Father as righteous, redeemed, perfect.

Actually, now that I’ve thought more about all this, I’m going to have to retract my previous statement.   Perfection and brokenness can coexist. They coexist in me.  Christ has given me his perfect standing with the Father, but as long as I live on this earth, brokenness will be a part of who I am.  I am broken and my world is full of broken people . . . as a matter of fact, my house is full of broken people and my church as well.

What can’t coexist is perfectionism and brokenness.  The more I try to live up to a standard of perfectionism, to appear as though I have it all together, the more likely I am to miss the deep community God desires for me to have with others and there is a strong chance relationships will be broken apart.

There is a difference between a broken relationship and being broken together.  I know this too well.  When we’re broken together we come alongside one another admitting our own weaknesses and encouraging our brothers and sisters in theirs as we walk through this broken world together.  There is a big difference.  It’s the difference between isolation and loneliness and deep, fulfilling relationships.

 “The only way we’ll last forever is broken together.” 

Broken Together

*I did go back and paint the cross into the picture.

Tami Lowman

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Do You Thank God for a Proverbs 31 Wife?

Godly-wife

We often talk about Proverbs 31:10-31 in relation to a Godly woman. But do we stop and thank God for a Godly wife?

Many Bible scholars call this last section of the book of Proverbs—the noble wife. The husband of such a wonderful woman is only mentioned three times, v.11, v. 23, and v.28. This type of woman is a wife and mother that can be trusted.

Her integrity is unquestionable. Her husband can trust her in all situations because he knows where she stands in every situation. This wife will do the Godly thing every time.

Because of the confidence in her, and her integrity, the family lacks nothing. She is the manager of the household. Mom manages the household so that everyone in her home is taken care of.

According to v.12, This kind of woman is an asset to her husband. Good comes to him that can be directly attributed to her. She supports and encourages him. And she is faithful in helping him all her life.

The husband can trust his wife to take care of the household essentials and when she goes shopping the household matters are provided for. The family can trust her to be financially responsible for the entire family.

In v.28, her children call her blessed. She is positive and optimistic and enjoys being a wife and Mother. She encourages her children and when they play football on national TV they wave and say—Hi Mom.

One of the great preachers of old, G. Campbell Morgan, had 4 sons. They all became pastors. At a family reunion, he was asked which one of the four sons was the greatest preacher. He looked at his boys, and then looked back at the person and said, “Mother.”

In v.31 the writer urged his readers to recognize and reward the faithful diligence and kindness of such a woman.

She along with her husband should be honored publicly. Honoring a woman at the gate was not normally done in Israel. But an unusual woman called for unusual recognition. Other men would say to her husband, you married a Godly woman.

Today is our anniversary. Brenda has been this type of woman for 33 years of marriage. She has homeschooled our 4 boys, served faithfully in the church, and lived her life to honor the Lord.

I can’t thank God enough for bringing her to me, and today I want to praise her too.

Thank you ladies for being an example and an encourager to us. We cannot honor you enough but we are eternally grateful for our Proverbs 31 wives.

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless your day!

Pastor Rodney

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3 Expectations of a Pastor’s Wife

promises

Ministry is difficult. If you have never have been hurt, talked about, criticized, or slandered in ministry then you should be thankful. The expectations on a pastor are high—the expectations on the pastor’s wife are unreachable. His wife and children bare the brunt of churches flaws.

What does the church expect from a pastor’s wife?

1.She serves wherever is needed

There have been several church interviews where my wife was asked if she played the piano. It used to be a given that the pastor’s wife was the church piano player or choir director. Now that has changed some. But the pastor’s wife must serve somewhere.

It doesn’t matter if her children are young; she needs to be involved where the need is. Nursery worker, children’s church, women’s director, Sunday School teacher, VBS, painter, hostess, kitchen helper, and the list of possibilities grows.

Whatever the church needs, the pastor’s wife fills the requirement. She is expected to do it because her husband is employed by the church.

2. She remains silent on issues

Even though she works and serves faithfully, she is expected to be silent about church politics. When her husband comes home from a deacon’s meeting, finance meeting, personnel meeting, or a meeting-meeting, she has to listen but never speak to the attacks he faces.

She cannot even defend her husband against the gossip people bring against him. Church people look at her as a nonresident of the community and church with no say so about issues her husband goes through.

If she speaks to a “friend” (if that’s possible) too often they talk to someone, and then the issue gets bigger than before. The pastor’s wife has learned the hard way; it is better for her family if she remains silent.

3. She will always put church before family

The church doesn’t seem to mind that she has small children. In fact that’s one reason they loved the pastor and his family in the beginning. Since the pastor’s family has moved away from family, the pastor’s wife has to bring the children to anything she is expected to be a part of.

Sometimes she has to take them to the nursery while a function is going on, and she winds up being the nursery worker that night for the rest of the church.

The pastor and his family have to do Christmas Eve services for the church members who expect it, and too often the pastor’s family cannot go visit their parents during the holidays. The church comes first, and the pastor’s wife learns that is just the way it is.

These Godly ladies will have a special place in heaven. They tolerate more than people will ever know. Snide remarks about their husbands, friends that have expectations of having the pastor’s ear, or a cold shoulder by members who are mad that week.

If you know a pastor’s wife—pray for them. Very often you will never see their hurt. Thank them for all they do. Show your gratitude for their call. It is a call.

If you are a pastor’s wife—thank you! You should have an appreciation month all to your own. May your church see the love you have for them!

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Proverbs 31:10

Keep looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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My Kind of Feminism

feminism

I am a feminist.  I believe women are just as smart, capable and successful as men.  I know we can rule companies and countries if we set our minds to it. We deserve equal opportunities and rights given by God and if I had been born in the 19 and 20th century I probably would have been a suffragette.  Yet at the same time – and here is where things get tricky – I believe we were created different.

I see it clearly in my own life.  I’ve always been ambitious but at the same time desired to “take care of a home” one day.  Call me crazy, but I love to cook, clean, budget and enjoy doing these things for my family. Maybe you don’t feel the same way and that’s okay.  I’m sure part of it comes from the way I was brought up. My dad worked while my mom stayed home with us.  Other times though, I know my desire is God-given.

Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, working at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (Titus 2:4-5)

Perhaps those verses strike a chord with you, and not in a good way. Other translations say “keepers at home” “good housewives” “managers of household” and “busy at home.” Perhaps you like this verse even a little less now!

Before you think I’m taking us back to 1950s, or advocating being barefoot and pregnant, let’s take a closer look at a passage we’ve read a million times. Yes, I’m talking about that all-too-perfect Proverbs 31 woman.

10-31 A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.

Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.

Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.

She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing.

She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises.

She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day.

She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.

First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. 

She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.

She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking.

She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.

She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.

She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks.

Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers.

She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.

Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.

When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.

She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive.

Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise:

“Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!”

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.

The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.

Give her everything she deserves!

Notice all this woman does: she shops, is up before dawn, plants, buys, rolls-up-her-sleeves, designs, sells and does it all with a smile. It can be discouraging that we’re supposed to emulate her.

But in addition to all she does, she is trusted, respected, hard-working, kind and always has something worthwhile to say. Now that sounds like the kind of woman I’d like to be. Sounds like my kind of feminist.

And before you think what I’m really saying is that all women should stay home, that’s not the case. This woman worked outside the home. She bought land and made money from making clothes.  Nowadays, we teach, write, take care of patients, sell houses, and in some cases – run companies. Years ago I thought this passage was saying women only belonged in the home. But now I see it’s not putting any restrictions on women. Instead, we have to look what the emphasis is on – her household and family.

I realize this is where we may disagree again but I hope not too much. This woman, who we as Christian women are to emulate, was generous with her husband and never spiteful, she prepared breakfast for her family, was skilled in homemaking (aka cooking and cleaning), clothed her family so they were warm, and was the anchor the held the whole family together. I’m not saying we have to do every one of these things, but the emphasis is on her family and household first…before ambitions, careers, and making money.

Shouldn’t this be the husband’s priority too, you may ask? Of course. Though I believe God gave men a desire to provide for their family in a different way.

You see, we have separate tasks given by God, but still equal and certainly just as important. For some reason our society has told us that taking care of a family is not good enough. You need to make lots of money or manage people to be successful. Dishes are beneath our abilities.

But as Christians when did serving come to be beneath us too? Isn’t that what taking care of a family or those around us is really about?

The great part about the Proverbs 31 woman is that you don’t have to be married to emulate her either. We can serve, give generously, be kind, and work hard as single women, too. We can also be successful.

Perhaps the roles in your relationship look vastly different and if it works for you – that’s great. This is just my take on the Bible and what I know He’s put on my heart, but that sure doesn’t mean God can’t do something else in your life.

As a newly married woman, I’m going to continue to pursue the Proverbs 31 type of feminism. That type where the woman is smart, successful and strong, and also generous, kind and can find joy in serving others – even through mundane tasks such as cooking and cleaning.

Sarah Althouse

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Are You a Contrary Mary?

contrary

“Mary, Mary, Quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”

We stood at opposite ends of the kitchen island, posed for a good argument.  It had been a long work day for my husband and equally long for me with the kids at home.  Nothing had gone as we had hoped once we were together, and being human, we both wanted somebody else to blame.

We hurled arguments at each other, rapid fire, until finally my husband looked at me, and said, “I thought I was enough.”

Through tears I remember repeating, “You are enough, you are enough.”  But it was too late.  Our relationship, it seemed, was a briar patch full of doubt, disappointment, and desperation.  It wasn’t all bad, but it seemed that way.

That night, we both apologized half-heartedly, but nothing had really changed.  No resolutions had been made.  We just kept on sowing our seeds of discord.  It wasn’t the relationship we wanted, but who should have to change?  What should have to change?

My husband works hard at work. I work hard at home. My husband and I, despite our disagreements, worked together when it came to our kids. We serve faithfully together at church. We were both working towards all the things that are supposed to make a happy family so who’s fault was it?

Looking back, here’s what I know.  I didn’t say thank you. I didn’t ask, I expected. I was never wrong.  And I sure wasn’t encouraging.  It wasn’t that I wanted to be a Contrary Mary or a Negative Nellie.

It was that my husband forgot the plans we had just talked about yesterday.   He made promises to fix this or move that, and two weeks later it still wasn’t done.  ​It was his week off work but they needed him to stop by “for a few minutes.”

Little things that turned into big things that the majority of husbands and wives fight about, I’m sure. If our marriage was a garden, we had let ours be overtaken by weeds—nitpicking, nagging, sarcasm, and bitterness.

And then one day, we got tired of it. We agreed we needed to fix it. No more fake apologies.

It was like we took the tractor and plowed up the whole field for a new beginning. I asked the question, “What do you need from me, what can I do, so you know how much I love and respect you?” And I meant it.

My husband is not perfect, but we will be married 7 years this year and I have never once regretted it. He is a great man, but he didn’t think that’s what I thought.

Here’s what I’ve learned. The words I speak to my husband have the power to heal or to break his spirit. I can encourage with gentle reminders instead of nagging with disdain. I can thank him when he fulfills his promises and brag on him in the presence of others.

I can seek God’s help to show grace and compassion when he falters just as God shows me mercy and grace when I falter.

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Jessica Brown

Visit Jessica @smalltownbrowns.com

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How Often Do We Compromise?

compromise

I would have never guessed that getting a quote for home internet would have any significant impact on my day, much less my marriage. Even the customer service representative at Hughes Net kept telling me, “it’s just internet, it’s not a big deal”. However, it felt very much like a big deal.

You see, I was only calling for a quote. Not to be pressured into setting up a time and date to have someone come to my house to install a satellite. And no matter how many times I told the representative I needed to discuss the financial details with my husband before I scheduled, she continued to push me.

Over and over she tried to assure me that it was “only internet”.

I even went as far as to explain why it was more than just internet to me; my husband is the head of my household. God placed him there and I respect that. A little thing like ordering an internet package without consulting my husband first may seem like no big deal to most people – but the tugging on my conscience told me otherwise. And as I found myself arguing with the lady on the other end of the phone, I began to wonder; just how much and how often am I compromising?

What areas of my life am I writing off as no big deal?

My marriage is sacred to me. I protect it at all cost. I know my husband loves me just as Christ loves the church, (Ephesians 5:25) and I joyfully and respectfully submit to him as the church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5:24). When my husband, Daniel, and I got married, I knew that I loved him. But, it wasn’t until I also started chasing after God’s heart that He showed me how to love Daniel.

I believe the bible states very plainly that we, as wives, are to respect our husbands because respect is a man’s ‘love language’: the verbal and non-verbal way we express and feel love in our various relationships. Sure, every man is different and responds to their individual love language, but universally, they all need respect.

Witnessing friends’ marriages fail and having made my own detrimental marital mistakes, I’ve found that being thoughtless in the small choices, little white lies, and lying by omission, all lead to compromising when it comes to bigger issues.

Maybe going to have lunch with a male friend was never something you would even consider; now you find yourself doing so and not mentioning it to your husband.

All these seemingly insignificant choices add up. And they can start you down a path to neglecting the grass in your own yard, thereby making the grass on the other side of the fence appear that much greener.

You may think I’m overreacting, and that it really was just internet. And that’s okay. But to me, it was about principal. In reality my husband probably prefers that handle our internet situation, but I don’t make a habit of ‘asking forgiveness, not permission’. Caring enough to discuss with my husband what’s going on in our household shows respect. And I know that makes him feel loved.

In Christ alone,

Alicia Jones

Associate Editor

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Date Night–Yes!

date night

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other…”

1 Peter 4:8 (NLT)

 

Remember date nights?

I actually ended up marrying my high school sweetheart, Jeff, so I truly don’t remember life without him. But, there were several years when our daughters were toddlers that we certainly didn’t feel like sweethearts. We were more like two people who lived in the same house, and eventually collapsed in bed next to each other—sometimes with two toddlers and a dog between us.

Sound familiar?

Thankfully, I was part of a bible study for young marrieds and new moms during that season of my life where I learned something vital every week. One such lesson was this—never stop dating your husband. Make time for him, apart from the children, and keep that romance alive. I remember sitting in that bible study and wondering how I could possibly find time to date my husband when we barely had time to do anything except the absolutely necessary household tasks and child-rearing duties. Our lives had become so busy with work and raising our little girls that we’d sort of lost sight of everything else. We were just going through the motions of life, mumbling “I love you” before drifting off to sleep at night.

I truly wanted to date my husband again, so I talked to my wonderful mama about our situation, and she happily volunteered to babysit for us once a week so that Jeff and I could have a date. Sometimes our date night consisted of going to the movies, holding hands, and sharing a large box of Junior Mints. Other times, our date night was simply cuddling on the couch and catching up on our favorite TV shows. Still other times, we spent our date night at a local bookstore, drinking coffee, (I don’t like coffee, so I was drinking hot chocolate, of course), reading magazines, and being adults in love. No matter what we did, we looked so forward to that time together each week. I truly believe that because we did make an effort to keep the romance alive as we parented our children, that when our girls both left for college recently, and we were back to just the two of us, we transitioned much more easily than many couples do.

I remember right after the girls left and it was just the two of us at breakfast, I looked across the table at him and said, “Now what?” halfway joking, but halfway nervous about the next chapter. Without missing a beat, Jeff shot me a mischievous grin and said, “Now I get you all to myself again.”

We’ve been dating each other like teenagers ever since, but it all started because we decided to make time for one another early on.

I encourage you to do the same. Even if it just means putting your children to bed earlier than usual one night a week and reserving that time for just you and your spouse to reconnect. Make the investment in your marriage. The payoff is huge! You don’t have to spend lots of money on your date nights. If money is tight, rent a free movie from your local library; pop some microwave popcorn; and cuddle on the couch. Or, if you have a willing grandparent or aunt who wants to babysit for free, pack a picnic and a blanket, download your favorite music on your iPhone, and enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors. Dinner and dancing under the stars could be just that break from the mundane that you both need to rekindle the romance.

Here’s the thing. If you and your spouse keep your relationship thriving, you’ll have a happier home, and your children will grow up in a healthy environment. So, go ahead. Plan a date with your spouse, and make a big deal about it. Leave little “countdown to our date” notes in your spouse’s briefcase or in his vehicle. Act like you’re 16 again, and let the romance begin…

(With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, and with chocolate playing such an important role in this holiday of hearts, I thought it only appropriate to share an excerpt from my recent book, “When Chocolate Isn’t Enough: An

date night
When Chocolate Isn’t Enough

Inspirational Survival Guide for Moms” )

 

Michelle Medlock Adams

 

Visit Michelle @MichelleMedlockAdams.com

Leave a comment on our Facebook page

 

Spoil Your Spouse Not Your Kids

spoil your spouse

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to my church’s MOPS group on a subject that is near the top of my ‘things-I’m-passionate-about’ list.

When our homes revolve around our kids and begin to have a “child-centered” marriage, both our spouse AND our kids lose.

Now, also on this list are; coffee, the correct use of their, there, and they’re, and my dream of being a writer.

All kidding aside, it was the topic of marriage that God laid on my heart that day. And marriage, especially how to have a successful marriage, is something I am relentlessly thinking, reading, learning, and writing about.

I count myself as one of the lucky ones that can say they are married to the love of their life. My husband, Daniel, is nothing short of a gift straight from the hands of God. I could gush on and on for hours and never get tired of talking about my wonderful husband.

But you would probably get tired of hearing about it.

Besides, I’ve found that when I do land in a conversation that allows me to publically praise my hubby, most women (and men) will say, “oh, that lovey-dovey stuff will end”, “wait till you’ve been married 20 years”, or (my personal favorite) “you must be newly-weds”. While yes, we have only been married 3 years, we both have decades of experience in what NOT to do! Like I said before, marriage is a topic close to my heart – because I have been divorced. So I can’t help but see this epidemic of divorce touching everyone I know in some way – and it breaks my heart.

Ok, now stay with me here. I know some of you are thinking, “What’s this divorced sinner-girl think she’s going to tell me about marriage?” And that’s fair. A tad judgmental, but whatever.

See, I’ve watched as so many of my friends and neighbors’ marriages’ ended. They tell me they just “grew apart” or lost that “connection”.  And you probably know the family I’m talking about: their kids are in high school, or just going into college, they have a nice house and from the outside they seem to be the perfect family. Then one day they announce their shocking split.

Why?

It shocked you because mom or dad was at every ball game, every PTA meeting, field trip, track meet, pep rally, dance recital; you name it. They bought their kids designer jeans, a brand new car for their sweet 16, the latest iPhone, and allowed the latest curfew. These parents poured everything they had into their kids, packing lunches every morning, checking homework every night, and doing every extra-curricular activity they could get their kids into. Their time, money, attention – all of it. Until 18 years came and went and when their baby birds finally left the nest, as they were always meant to do, mom and dad realized they had become strangers.

Ok divorced sinner-girl, now you’re telling me how to raise my kids?

No. Well, yes and no.

All of those things can be good things to do for our children. But if you aren’t careful, the outcome will be a “child-centered” marriage.

Now, the bible is clear on a few things; first:

A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31)

I know that can be a hard pill to swallow for us moms especially, but we have to remember, our ultimate goal when raising our babies is to send responsible, well-adjusted, productive, happy, Christ-loving young adults out into the world!

Second, the bible also tells us:

Discipline is good for children.

Kids need structure, routine, rules, and yes, discipline in order to feel confident enough to grow. Proverbs 13:24 says,

“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

And third, Paul teaches in Ephesians to:

“Let the wife see that she respects her husband.

This is a biggie for me. I believe respect to be the universal love language for men. And when our homes revolve around our kids, when we have a “child-centered” marriage, both our spouse AND our kids lose. Without discipline our kids can become spoiled, self-centered, and entitled. And when we allow our children to rule the roost, our husband feels disrespected, unimportant, and unloved. I truly believe a husband feeling disrespected and unloved can sometimes lead to irreparable damage in a relationship.

Now, the good news is that we don’t have to raise and send our husband out into the world! His mom did a great job of that and now he deserves to be spoiled by his wife! He is still the man you married after all! Make time to stay connected.

You won’t have to figure out a way to RE-connect if you STAY connected:

Schedule an early morning cup of coffee and a snuggle on Saturdays.

Go out for date night. DON’T talk about the kids and DON’T feel guilty about it!

Put the kids to bed early to talk about your day.

Cook his favorite meal even though the kids are whining for pizza instead.

And when you are with your kiddos, show them what a healthy marriage looks like: Make decisions together, say I love you, let them see you hold hands, hug often, and yes! even kiss!

My youngest son HATES it when Daddy kisses Mommy, it grosses him OUT! (So, luckily for me, it makes my husband do it all the more!)

Most importantly, when you show your kids a Christ-centered marriage, you are instilling the knowledge that they should never settle for less in their own lives. You want your daughters to see how a godly man cherishes his wife and your sons to see a wife joyfully submit to her husband.

I know we love our kids, they’re cute and snuggly. Easy to shop for and even easier to love. We may have prayed for children for a long time before God blessed us with them, but we simply can’t allow our world to revolve around them. Don’t forget it was you and your husband that brought the pitter patter of little feet into your home. You can’t ignore him now that he’s done his “duty”!

Too many extra-curricular activities and working ourselves to death to give our kids everything we didn’t have can overwhelm our lives and smother our marriages.

Life is busy enough.

But let’s commit to making time with our spouse is our first priority. Remember, you won’t have to RE-connect if you stay connected.

In Christ alone,

Alicia Jones

Visit Alicia @FAWHP.com

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