Today, that’s how many days we’ve been married. That’s almost 11,000 days of choosing faithfulness to a vow we made in front of God, our family and friends. Thirty years have passed in the space of ten, I think. How does it go so fast?
I was nineteen and he was twenty-one when we said “I do,” and yes, we were both as immature as we were young.
In truth, several people discouraged our marriage. After all, we came from very different backgrounds—his family was healthy and happy, while mine was on life-support, for starters.
His style was rock-n-roll, mine was very Portland preppy.
We both loved music, though. He played electric guitar and was the lead singer in a Christian rock-n-roll band. I was a pianist who was so intimated by his impressive skill on the guitar that I literally stopped playing when we started dating. I do wish I had kept with it, but it was a window into my terrible struggle with self-worth.
In the years to come, Jay would have his work cut for him out as he learned to navigate the broken places in my heart and mind. God has used our marriage as in instrument of healing in my life! Truly, Jay has loved me “like Christ loved the church” in so many ways over the past 30 years.
In the spring of 1989, we a sat down in a fast-food restaurant and completed an assignment from a pre-marital counseling session: we wrote out a list of marriage pros and cons. One column contained all the reasons why we should get married that fall, and the other was a thinly veiled attempt to be reasonable about it all. Of course, reason was long-gone. We were in love.
Even though we made that list more than thirty years ago, if I close my eyes, I can still see Jay spinning a pen over his fingers as he wrote. His eyes danced when he looked at me. He said I was beautiful and funny and smart—and amazingly, despite my secret insecurity and pain, I believed him. He made me want to be all those things.
Six months after the list was made, we walked down the aisle and set out on the adventure of a lifetime.
We’ve been through a lot in thirty years. Seven newborns have been placed in our arms—the wonder of which never ceases to amaze us. Each child has exposed strengths and weaknesses in us—and forced us to face them. We’ve traveled the globe together planting homeschool co-ops and speaking to countless men and women about the hope we have in Jesus. We’ve graduated four of our seven children and been privileged to become grandparents, too!
Of course, things haven’t always been easy. Our hearts bear the scars of healing from shared heartache. We lost a precious baby to miscarriage early in 2000. That loss taught us that nothing is more precious than human life. Several years later, we endured the humiliation of losing our home to foreclosure and learned that people can be cruel when you pull out food stamps instead of cash at the grocery store. This taught us compassion and the of power kind words.
There have been seasons when we struggled to love each the way we promised to. We’ve been selfish and unkind to each other. Our words sometimes hurt instead of heal. I’ve pouted and slammed the door and, embarrassingly, engaged in childishness we call “the silent treatment.”
And through all of this, my husband stayed. He has loved me like Jesus. He held my hand as I was wheeled into the surgery that put an end to our ability make babies together. He’s been patient when our sex life was less than he needed, choosing to be patient as I struggled through hormone therapy and crippling anxiety.
For thirty years, his love has brought healing into my life.
Marriage is precious. It’s worth celebrating. Worth protecting. Worth defending and worth every ounce of energy we put into it. Marriage, after all, was God’s idea.
Today, I’ll look at my husband with tears in my eyes and let him know that I’d marry him all over again. I’m so thankful for our marriage! I’m so thankful we got married young and that we have chosen — yes — chosen to stay faithful.
The vow matters. The promise is renewed with every passing joy and trial—and I am grateful.
Happy 30th Anniversary, Jay. I plan to spend the rest of my life making our home the place you most want to be. I love you!
It’s so easy during busy times of the year (and lets face it, parent life means all seasons are busy) to get overwhelmed with details and forget the main man right in front of us. So what is at the top of your date list this season? If you answered “nothing,” or “folding laundry,” keep reading—because I get you.
It’s not that we don’t love our husbands, right? It’s that we’re just.so.tired. After a long day checking things off the list, intimacy is often the last thing on my mind. I just want to unwind and relax. Trouble is, my husband’s idea of relaxing and mine can look very different—IYKWIM.
Does this sound familiar? “Hot monogamy, you say? I just want to sleep!”
Statistics tell us that men and women struggle to find time for intimacy in their marriage. In fact, most married couples I speak to tell me that one of the first areas in the relationship to take a hit when the stress of life comes is physical intimacy. It’s easy to put a tender caress to the bottom of the list amidst the busyness of life—when in reality, physical touch is one of the best de-stressors we have in marriage!
Three years ago, I was introduced to a series of videos that I knew were going to change the way my husband and I saw date night, and I was right. I figured I’d check them out and was so impressed, I’ve been sharing them with you for almost two years. Let’s just say I think you’re gonna love this idea. 🙂
Looks good, right? Show this to your man, ladies, because I know he’ll want to give it a try after seeing this video.
Massage gives mt husband and I the gift of relaxation, and time together to reconnect and spend time with each other— just the two of us.
Massage gives mt husband and I the gift of relaxation, and time together to reconnect and spend time with each other— just the two of us. A simple massage, with some essential oils combined with Melt’s Oil, allows me to focus on how my body feels. For me, and many other women, that’s 9/10th of the struggle. When I’m focusing on my body and my husband, rather than my to-do list, good things happen for both of us.
Forget “50 Shades of Grey.” The real thing is better.
Marriage should be a passionate love affair that never gets boring.
In short, monogamy should be hot!
If you’ve “lost that loving feeling,” here’s my challenge: This month, mark a few nights off on your calendar (yes, in the middle of the to do list!) and make an evening of relaxing together. If you enjoy wine, put the kids to bed and take some wine and cheese to your room. Light a candle (or ten, if you’re candle-obsessed like me), turn your favorite music on, put your favorite essential oils in your diffuser, and watch these videos together. (I tell you my 5 favorite things about them at the end, so keep reading!)
Not sure where to start? Check out MELT as you make your plans. Not gonna lie: When I told Jay I was looking into this last year, his smile said it all. We have loved using these this year!
Build Intimacy and Trust in Your Marriage through Massage. Here’s Why It Works:
1. Massaging each other is an opportunity to slow down… together
High-speed internet. 24 hour email access. Real-time status updates. Is it just me? Or does the world seem to spin faster these days? Sitting down to a decadent massage together provides a rare opportunity to stop and be together, focused entirely on each other. For just 30 minutes, you can dim the lights, play some soft music and treat each other to a muscle-melting massage. This is a wonderful escape for multi-tasking wives and the husbands who love them.
2. Massage in marriage is a 100% “hands-on” experience
It doesn’t take a marriage therapist to tell you that giving your spouse a massage enhances your intimate connection and builds trust in your marriage. Intimacy is a requirement for healthy relationships, but it doesn’t always come automatically. We need to make space and time to foster our intimate connections, and massaging each other is one very simple way to do that. On top of the time you spend together, you very literally have your hands on each other, helping to reinforce the intimate bond. As you start to work knots from aching muscles and your partner falls back into you, you can take that as a sign of complete trust. The entire experience is seriously incredible. And, if you are both so inclined (and I promise you, it will be hard not to be) it can lead to wonderfully intimate and steamy sex, too.
3. Massage speaks to several “love languages” at once
Treating your husband to a massage is a beautiful way to show him that he’s very much appreciated and loved. In fact it hits almost every Love Language, if you think about it. Massage very clearly speaks to the Physical Touch love language, of course. But if you think about it, it’s also Quality Time spent together, it’s an Act of Service (especially if you don’t ask for one in return!), and if you play your cards right it can make for a gorgeous gift… just package up some massage oil and a scented candle in a big bow and then go on to actually massage your husband and watch him melt with joy.
A couple of years ago I visited my massage therapist several times, due to complications from a surgery. The last time I saw her, I asked how I could teach my husband to do some of her techniques at home. “Training,” was all she said. So imagine my excitement when Denis Merkas, a Registered Massage Therapist, contacted me about the MELT: Massage for Couples video series that he did with his wife Emma. I was really excited (and not just because I got to watch the videos, too!).
Denis shows couples that massaging properly is easier than you think! I really do think this can lead to closer marriages, and can help to reduce stress for both of you. If you’re worried that your husband will never understand how much you need massage, ask him to watch these with you and practice what you’ve learned together. It’s a great way to bring something new and needed into our marriages and invest in our future. Even the arrangement of how you sit is no mistake. Before any technique was created, or routine designed—Denis and his wife researched the most romantic way to position our bodies, because the bed simply wasn’t good enough.
It’s easy too! Denis recommends you stage your massage experience into three separate date nights… “it’s unlike anything you’ve ever done before. Simply add oil and follow along to the videos online. Use your iPad, Laptop, or even SMART TV—the videos are device ready.”
Here are a few things I loved about the MELT series:
1. Denis keeps things PG-rated.
Sure, there’s romantic music and the couple is massaging each other, but clothes stay on, and the focus is on learning how to give a massage. (Yes, she’s wearing a strapless top, but that’s so you can see the proper technique on her shoulders). As Denis says, if things lead somewhere else, that’s fine—but that’s not what his video series is trying to teach you. So you don’t have to worry that this is pornographic in nature! It isn’t—it really is just about learning technique.
2. We learned that we were doing massage wrong—and how to do it right.
These videos break down our misconceptions about massage—which shows what we’re doing wrong—and how to do massage right! (hint: no thumbs allowed!) I have now become the massage favorite during movie night at our house. It’s easy!
3. The videos are short to watch together.
Each video broken down into short tutorials that are under 5 minutes in length. Each focus is on learning one technique. About 6 videos form a series, and there are 3 series altogether: The Basic Strokes, the Highlights, and the Deep Tissue stuff. The Basic Strokes Series teaches you how to actually move your hands to achieve maximum impact–and maximum ooohs and aaaahs.
You’ll watch 7 short videos and learn a new technique with each one, and then at the end there’s a 15 minute video that features a routine using all your new techniques. The Deep Tissue Series focuses on how to use your thumbs to really work out knots. It’s so helpful—and at the end is a 30 minute routine that you can use on each other.
4. Everything builds on each other.
It’s amazing! Each night you feel like you’ve learned something new, and at the end of the series, you will have confidence in your technique and understanding of how massage works.
5. They’re easy to watch together and do together.
(Translation: great date night!) You just watch one of the short ones a night and then practice on each other. Because you’re watching the technique, it’s easy to say, “I’ll go first, then you try it.” Or, to make it more enticing for him, let him massage you first. That way you can’t fall asleep because you have to massage him afterwards—so he won’t worry that if he massages you the night will be over because you’ll be in dreamland. I’ve been saying a lot on this blog that it is so important to start going to bed together at the same time so that you have opportunity to connect.
Instead of watching one more show on Netflix, or browsing Pinterest, or playing one more round of Words with Friends, this gives you a reason to head to bed.
You watch a video, pull out some massage oil, and then do it! And as you touch, it does help nerves to fire. If that leads to something else, woo hoo! As someone who does carry a lot of stress physically, massage is such a service to me and helps me feel closer to my husband.
So many men carry stress on their backs and necks, too, and if we can learn to release that, we can actually change the dynamic in the marriage.
We’re just gearing up for my speaking season here, which is always pretty challenging. We meet ourselves coming and going for 4 months or so. More than once, we’ve had a little hiccup at home when my husband reminds me that it has been a while since we had spent “quality” time together. Sometimes I cringe. Just one.more.thing. that I need to put on my to-do list. I feel burdened. Yeah. I said that. I’ll tell you the truth: balancing marriage and motherhood is not for the faint-of-heart.
But your family, your marriage is worth it. Let me say it again: it’s worth it. Worth investing in. Worth fighting for. Worth every ounce of energy you can muster.
The truth is that our marriage is the most precious component of our home life. Neglect it, and the whole family suffers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: marriage needs to come before mothering.
Before we get into books and schedules and the busy fall routines, let’s remind ourselves: our marriages matter.
It matters. It matters to your children and to your grandchildren. It matters for the generations that will come after you. Truth is: your children have a better chance of staying married if you stay married. It matters. They’re more important than homeschooling, busy mom.
Over the past 25 years, I’ve been blessed to know some amazing families. I’ve seen them weather some pretty harsh storms, too. While there is no formula for a strong family, there are some common traits that make a family strong. The biggest one? Strong families have strong marriages. Strong marriage—strong family.
5 Traits of a Happily Married Couple
Strong married couples spend time together.
They realize that time is a commodity, just like any other, and they spend it on each other whenever possible. Working on the yard together, doing a project around the house, working out, reading, cooking—or just being. Happy marriages require an investment of time.
They have a spiritual commitment to the marriage. “For better or for worse” means something to couples who go the distance. They don’t give up when times are hard. They forgive each other. They have a sense of commitment that goes beyond today’s cultural norms.
They solve problems together in a crisis. Rather than finger-pointing and manipulation, they put their heads together in times of crisis. They recognize that their spouse is not the enemy—and they keep their eyes fixed what’s ahead, not what’s behind.
They value sexual intimacy and fidelity. Inside a happy marriage, sex is not a one-sided pursuit. It’s a shared commitment. A commitment to protect the marriage through nurturing sexual fulfillment and to keep the marriage free from anything that might damage trust or break faith.
They communicate well with each other. Proverbs says, “Right words spoken in the right time are like apples of gold in a silver setting.” A strong marriage is marked by a commitment to good communication. Happy couples can talk to each other about anything—even hard things, and do it in love. Let love be your aim.
It’s been said that “A good marriage is the union of two forgivers.” I couldn’t agree more. I know that my husband forgives me every day. Little things that I could’ve said better, mostly. 🙂 It’s amazing to me how I can be the most inconsiderate to the ones I love the most.
Over the years I’ve spoken to many moms about this, and it seems it’s a common struggle. Sometimes it’s easier to be kind to the woman at WalMart than it is to our own family. After all, the woman at the store might just haul off and kick me if I’m rude to her, right?! 🙂
I think we easily take our most precious relationships for granted, because we feel the most comfortable with the ones with whom our relationships are the most secure.
Do you need to be forgiven? Ask for it. Do you need to forgive? Don’t put it off.
Today, let’s purpose to TELL our husbands how much we love them. Remind your husband about those qualities in him that you love and admire. Flirt with him. <3 Invite him to bed for a change. Believe me, he’ll love you for it!
It’s never too late to invest in your marriage.
It’s never too late to forgive.
You’ve heard me talk about being *that girl,* the one who spends time and energy pouring in to her marriage, the one who chooses to pursue her husband… that one! And we’ve been talking on the podcast lately about purposing to strengthen our marriages, and I’m making that commitment too! This is one way that I strengthen my marriage.
My husband was actually more stoked than I was when we saw these—because he knows that it’s difficult for me to switch out of laundry, carpool, dishes and meal mode and just focus on being together. Massage gives us the gift of relaxation and time together to reconnect with my husband and spend time thinking about just the two of us. A simple massage with some essential oils (mixed with my favorite carrier oil) allows me to focus on how my body feels—and for me (and many other women!) that’s 9/10 of the struggle. When I’m focusing on my body and my husband rather than my to-do list, good things happen for both of us. But listen, maybe you’re like me and you just want to start with your feet?
When I share something, I choose it because I think it is something that will resonate with my audience. This is that thing. 😉 And with Father’s Day coming up, I have a great idea. Remember this podcast about creating a partnership that lasts? I shared this at Valentine’s Day and we had such a great response, we wanted to share it with you again. So many men are hard to buy for, but a gift that keeps on giving TO BOTH OF YOU is the perfect sort of thing our men like! This is a brilliant way to show him how much you appreciate all he does for you and your family!
Melt is a video series that will train you HOW to do massages for each other. It is appropriately presented (PG!) by Denis and Emma Merkas, clearly presented, easy to squeeze in just 5 minute segments, and best of all, easy to implement! Don’t miss the Father’s Day Sale good through June 19. Take just a sec to see if you think it’s a good fit for the man you are celebrating this Father’s Day! (And don’t forget, this is probably a gift that will give you something in response… after all, you and your hubby will both learn to give fabulous massages!)
I received a message from a woman last week who was desperate to reach her wayward son. “I don’t want to offend him,” she lamented. “I don’t want him to think I’m irrelevant because I believe the Bible.” She went on to say she was even more confused about how to reach her son because her pastor was unwilling to address cultural issues. You know, we need to be careful not to “push anyone away.” Her pastor’s passive stance on issues that her family is facing confused her. Her struggle deepened. After all, what good mother would push her son away with Bible verses-n-stuff? Sounds a little “yesterday,” and “churchy” in today’s progressive culture, don’t you think? But is it?
I might be all alone here, but I think our struggle for cultural relevance is robbing the Church of the one thing that actually makes us relevant. We sure can draw a crowd with our hipster services and feel-good gospel—but tell me, how’s that working for us?
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A few days ago, I read the story of a young Christian rocker named Trey Pearson. He has joined a chorus of other Christians in embracing his “true self,” by “coming out” as gay—leaving a devastated wife and broken family in his wake. In the name of being his “authentic” self, he has embraced what God says leads to death. With acceptance from people he thinks speak for Jesus, Trey has chosen to deny God and exalt himself. Trey said this was a “defining moment” for him – a moment when he finally found himself. Like so many before him, Trey has traded God’s truth for his own.
What’s a Christian to do? It’s a little bit of a crowd-shrinker I know, but here it is: the answer is not to run toward “our truth.” The answer is to run away from it! The answer is to run toward the Way, the Truth and the Life— toward the One who died to set us free by His truth.
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My heart truly breaks for this young man, and for all those who will follow him. It’s age old spiritual warfare—SW101, if you will: Take out the pastor and declare open season on the sheep. Satan knows if he can take out a man or woman with a platform, he’s got a clear shot at those who follow that platform. So where were the true Christians when this man with a platform was engaged in one-on-one spiritual warfare with the enemy of his soul?
They were nowhere to be found. I noticed Trey was flanked by two of his “pastors” in an image on his blog. He talked about how these “pastors” were instrumental in helping him. A true follower of Jesus would have loved Trey enough to be honest with him. Honestly? The Christian life is about denial of self (Colossians 3:5) rather than the embracing of it. If we embrace our “true selves” then look out—because literally, all hell will break lose. In our natural self, we’re lost. But nevermind that. In the name of love, at least some of the Christians around Trey have sacrificed truth on the altar of compassion.
“Love” is taking on new forms these days. Except that it’s not loving to lie.
I was a pastor’s wife for nearly 20 years. As such, I can promise you right now that some church leaders are scratching their heads at this article, wondering how we got here. So let’s be honest: we blew it when we ostracized a group of people because they sin differently that we do. When I was a young Bible college student, I knew heterosexual couples who were totally sinning on the weekends—but the guy who said he struggled with same-sex attraction got the boot. What a mess we made. Unfortunately, instead of recognizing our sin and admitting that we are all broken in different ways, we’ve fallen off the other side of the narrow path. Now, we are sacrificing truth on the altar of mercy.
In the name of being culturally relevant and often, in direct rebellion against God, many churches have turned a blind eye to the sin of abortion, covered up the sin of its pastors and priests, hailed gay marriage as “progress,” and quietly condoned assisted suicide as “brave.” Even worse, we’re silent. When did we start believing that speaking the truth in love equals silence or timidity?
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
When did we forget the grace of Jesus on our own broken lives? When did we forget to talk about it? When did we stop believing it?
We may think we’re drawing people to Christ by quietly accepting this massive shift in the culture, but the evidence is clear: our silence is costing this generation dearly. Among the casualties of a “relevant” church is the inconvenient truth that, aside from rare chromosomal anomalies, our DNA is set at birth. We’re either male or female.
Bottom line? I don’t think the culture wants our wishy-washy “relevance.” They don’t need our fancy programs or big buildings. The youth of today are grappling with issues we could not have even imagined twenty years ago. They’re being bombarded by bold lies that are causing many of them to do irreparable harm to their bodies and minds. What is our answer? What do we say, Church? We say the truth—in love—and we leave the results up to God. That’s freeing, really; to know we’re not responsible for the response, we’re just responsible to bear witness to the healing grace of Jesus. We are simply called to tell people that truth exists—and that God defines it.
This is the challenge of the Church today: to tell the truth, as it’s put forward in the Bible. To stand for righteousness. To proclaim the gospel to a generation who thought Barak Obama would bring them “hope and change.”
Under the watch of the “relevant” church, devastating lies have taken root in the culture. The depth of deception we are facing runs deep and wide, but God’s Word tells us that the gate that opens to life is narrow. The road that leads to life is difficult. It requires that we come before the Lord daily and ask Him to help us live in His truth, not ours.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
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The road is narrow—but it leads to life, and not just any old, run-of-the-mill life … abundant life.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
The thief is lying to us, as he has been doing since the Garden of Eden. Jesus says, “Follow Me, and I will give you LIFE!” Life that’s worth living and worth sharing. Life that’s bold and courageous. (Joshua 1:7) Life that’s rich and abundant. So no. I’m not against using the technology and music of this age to reach people with the gospel. I love the concert-worthy music many of today’s churches provide and, dare I say, I enjoy a delicous latte on my way to Sunday School. These things are good; but I have to ask: In our effort to be seen as “relevant,” have we lost the thing that makes us truly relevant? Because the thing that makes us relevant doesn’t need the trappings of modern “Christianity.”
What good is an entertaining church service that fails to entertain the questions that this generation is asking? What good is it if we can’t articulate compassion and truth in a way that clearly addresses the message of the cross? The cross is hope.
…and hope does not disappoint. Hope has a name. It’s Jesus.
The truth of the gospel has not changed. The saving power of a relationship with Jesus is all the relevance we need.
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“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”Ephesians 4:25
“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.”
This is one of my favorite verses from the book of Psalms. I’ve learned that whenever I see imagery used in Scripture, it’s time to pay close attention. God has something very important for me to take away from that image.
The Bible is replete with images and verses which tell us that we are engaged in a battle: a very real battle with very real consequences. We’re in a spiritual battle. In Ephesians we read,
“12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
The imagery here is a powerful reminder of a beautiful relationship. God gives children to us as “arrows” in the hands of a warrior. That makes you a warrior, busy mom! And you’re not just a run-of-the-mill warrior, either—you are an archer. You’re in the arrow-launching business!
I love the imagery of this sculpture. It was made for me by the son of dear friends, and it illustrates the way we should see ourselves as parents: we’re launching our arrows for the Kingdom, aren’t we? Notice the way this couple is engaged in battle: the husband, in front of his wife, protecting her and shielding her from enemy arrows.
His wife is not standing by passively, is she? No—because she is part of a team with her husband; a dynamic duo, if you will, for the Kingdom! This woman is launching her arrows out into the world under the protection and covering of her shield-weilding husband. What a powerful image!
So how do we launch our arrows?
It helps to remember three key things:
Our children have been given to us as gifts—as arrows in the hands of a warrior. It is our job to tenderly train and teach them to walk with the Lord. Ephesians 6 – “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
We are in is a spiritual battle. We can’t lose sight of this fact. When we do,we forget who the real enemy is. Our kids are not the enemy. Our husband is not the enemy. Satan is the enemy. And one of his prime targets is Christian families. Gird up! Be ready. Protect your marriage. Protect your family.
A good marriage is a partnership—a dynamic duo for the Kingdom! The goal of Christian parenting is best achieved inside this amazing partnership. This means that nurturing our marriages is of primary importance! It’s not secondary to raising children—it’s essential to it.
Seeing or marriages in light of eternity is a vision-sharpening experience, isn’t it?