Thursday, March 28, 2024

Marriage 302: Further Ways to Tend a Marriage

I love Charleston (we're here for a board-recommended, wee vacation before moving on with our ministry trip). 

We visited here about ten years ago, and I fell hard. 

If I believed in reincarnation (I don't), I'd think that I might have once been a Southern Belle. 

Charleston is rich in history; masterful architecture; warm coastal breezes; splendid, colorful, southern flowers; and, don't even get me started on the food (if I were once a Southern Belle, I was a chunky, "robust" girl)...

So, speaking of food, on Tuesday we toured downtown, then ate lunch at Hyman's Seafood Restaurant. 

Built in 1890, Hyman's newest owners boast being 5th generation descendants.

The restaurant, itself, brags about being #6 on the list of Taste Atlas' 150 most legendary restaurants.

We sat at a table where Kevin Costner once enjoyed a meal. 

Eli Hyman, the current owner, came over to our table to greet us and make certain everything was to our liking - he stood and visited some bit before moving on to another. 

That's good service - and probably why we made sure to come back. 

As he walked away, he asked if we would add Israel to our prayers. 

Done ✔ in we would do so right then before our meal, but we already pray on a regular basis for the peace of Israel.

You're probably wondering where all this is going and how it relates to marriage.

Well, in the center of our table sat a small box with different colored cards in it - 

Each one distributed great advice, and I collected them all to save.

One of those cards shared 40 different marriage strategies. 

Since I'm writing this blog while on "vacation," these thoughts seem appropriate and they are time-savers (yes, I'm taking the lazy-girl's-method-of-blog-writing this week).

They are good, though, and there are some I know I need to adopt.

They also fit the theme of last week's edition of "Just a Thought" and might give you another idea, or two, or three, to institute as a marriage-discipline (of course, there are a few repeats).

Here they are:

Start each day with a kiss.

Wear your wedding ring at all times.

Date once a week.

Accept one another's differences.

Be polite.

Gift gifts.

Smile often.


Give back rubs.

Laugh together.

Send a card for no reason.

Do what the other person wants before he or she asks.



Know his or her needs.

Fix the other person breakfast.

Compliment one another twice a day.

Call during the day.

Slow down.

Hold hands.


As for one other's opinions.

Show respect.

Look your best.

Celebrate birthdays in a big way.



Set up a romantic getaway.

Be positive.

Be kind.

Be vulnerable.

Respond quickly to the other person's request.

Reminisce about your favorite times together.

Treat each other's friends and relatives with courtesy.

Send flowers for Valentine's Day and your anniversary.

Admit when you're wrong -

Be sensitive to each other's sexual desires.

Pray fore each other daily.

Say, "I love you," frequently.

Seek outside help when needed. 

(accredited to Steve Stephens)

If I have to leave with just one thought for today - it's this: 

Marriages last because TWO PEOPLE work at it - forever. 

Be intentional. 

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Marriage 301: Marriage is Not a Waxed Amaryllis

Just before Thanksgiving, my sweet sister-in-law, Sherri, gave me a waxed Amaryllis bulb she purchased at Trader Joes. That was my kind of a flowering plant. Other than making sure it had some good indirect lighting, I didn’t have to tend to it. I put it in the sun, and let it be. It blossomed around Christmas producing 5 gorgeous flowers. After almost two weeks, it lost those blooms. Still it sat in my window as we headed to Arizona mid-January.

From AZ, we traveled on to the Philippines, arriving home just before heading to a marriage conference where we were speaking the first of March, and when I walked into our home, I noticed my Amaryllis produced a second time with six more blooms. A pleasant surprise, indeed!

As we left on this current trip, there were two more buds ready to burst forth again.  

If only our lives were like that beautiful Amaryllis and needed no tending (though truth be told, eventually it will run out of carbohydrates stored in the wax and will have to be thrown in a compost pile).

Sometimes, I wish I could just simply go about the day, and all things “my life” would be taken care of like my spiritual growth, my friendships, my weight, the whiteness/cavity-free-ness of my teeth, my family, and my marriage. 

Yet, no matter how much I might “want,” those "wishes" will forever remain simple “wishful thinking,” unless I put feet to my desires. 

From the time of our “littleness,” most of us were taught physical disciplines. Things like the need for a certain amount of sleep, cleanliness (showers, tooth-brushing, clothes-washing, etc), exercise (ugh)… Our parents taught us these healthy habits so our bodies could keep ticking along to “old age and gray hair (Psalm 71:18).”

Over the years, the Lord’s convictions led me to spiritual disciplines. The following put feet to my desire to grow spiritually and more intimately with Jesus: morning quiet time, bible study, personal prayer time, journaling, and gratitude lists. In recent years, I’ve added the “holy habits” of lament, Lectio and Visio Divina, paying attention, and the old practice of Examen. Spending time each morning putting these things into play, keep my soul experiencing God on a personal level.

In my teen years, I learned the value of tending to friendships that required time spent together, deep conversations, good communication skills, honesty, vulnerability, and selflessness for “healthy friendships.” Oddly enough, developing these habits prepared me for dating…and, eventually became a starting place for marriage.

These are a few of the things I committed to when I said “I do,” and repeat over and over and over again each new morning.

These are the actions I walk out to “do the work” of marriage daily.

The fact is there really are marital disciplines/holy habits/daily rhythms that help our marriages to keep ticking to “old age and gray hair” (til death do us part).

Unlike my lovely Amaryllis, my marriage needs tending, and I MUST NOT let it bloom, then shrivel up, only to throw it away. 

But, there are other "disciplines" for marriages.

What are some of the other holy habits that help us keep our love fresh? 

I’ve thought about the answer to this question a significant amount, because this topic became part of the marriage retreat where we spoke recently.

What I’m giving you are some of ours, and some that belong to friends of ours - 

- you are more than welcome to borrow some of these, but... 

...only you can determine what things breathe oxygen into the fire of your marriage...

1. Intentionally speak life to one another - words of affirmation (which has to do with your spouse's character) and appreciation (a simple thank-you is more important than you may realize).

2. Regularly touch base to share Jesus together: what God is speaking into your life, to pray, and to worship together.

3. Date nights - you determine the frequency....but, sometimes couples are just too busy to carve these sweet, special times into their schedule. Your marriage will suffer all the more if you don't eliminate the busy, and simplify your lives to spend time together without the kids.

4. Monthly marriage meetings - intentionally discuss the answers to questions like: How are we doing in our marriage? What are we doing right? How can I serve you better? Here's what I think I could do better (this is a great opportunity to confess and own mistakes)...

5. SERVING ONE-ANOTHER. This is nothing more than basic thoughtfulness... I can't tell you how many times a day, my dear husband will ask: "Is there anything I can do to help?" Generally, there isn't, but the fact he cares enough to check in means the world to me!

6. Intimacy. Yes, sex. Nothing is as sacred than this gift from the Lord, nor leads to deeper connection at the soul level.

7.  Seven seems to be the magical biblical number, so let me just close with several under this number: 

  • go on adventures together (this has been huge in our marriage, and we combine it with our ministry...but life has never been dull and always keeps us on our toes, leaning into one another. 
  • eat meals at the table together
  • Sabbath together (go to church together - a non-negotiable)
  • vacation together (you'd be surprised how many couples DON'T!)
  • laugh together (I, personally, love this one...I have a tendency to be serious about life, but Bay has a way of keeping things light and fun and I love him all the more for it).
  • play, hike, kayak, ski, snow shoe, go for a walk, tennis, pickle ball...just get outside!
  • work around the house together (divide the chores and get 'er done...together).
  • board games

 I'll close with this - make a plan for moving forward with some marriage-disciplines; because unlike a waxed Amaryllis, your marriage needs tender, loving care. 







Thursday, March 14, 2024

Marriage 202: Conflict

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,

for anger lodges in the heart of fools.

Ecclesiastes 7:9

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.

Ephesians 4:26

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

A soft answer turns away wrath,

but a harsh word stirs up anger

Proverbs 15:1

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32


As I type, we are on the road for a 30-day trip through the South to meet with supporters (a thank-you-tour-of sorts), speak at several incredible venues along the way, and spend a few days in South Carolina at the beach for a quiet vacation (hopefully not over-run by those on spring break). The original itinerary had us closer to 6-weeks out, but we recalculated and  shortened the length (grateful). Because we are driving long days and many hundreds of miles, we sort of sit in a petri dish for marital-conflict.

Not to worry, we’ve learned how to manage this well, over the years, so I am convinced we’ll have a great trip. 


Today, we are enjoying scenic New Mexico. 

I am stunned by the beauty of what increment weather, the baking of sun, and the length of days created for us to enjoy along the way.

If the rocks could speak, they’d no doubt attribute their uniqueness, and wrinkly layers, to the work of “conflict.” 


Just yesterday I chatted with a friend of mine who is in-training to be a Resident Assistant (AKA: House Mom) in a safe-house for rescued women from sex-trafficking. 

As part of her training, she joined in recently on a live and "hot" situation, in order to observe how other personnel in the facility handle these dear ones with care. 

These precious gals (the rescued) need help learning everything from how to use a toothbrush to learning to drive a car. 

So, you can imagine how important instruction into such a crucial life skill as conflict will be.

At this facility, they work to help these women understand the difference between toxic me-centered, fight-to-be right-conflict and healthy fight-to-understand-and-work-together-conflict. 


These women aren’t alone.

Oh-so-many-couples marry never learning the difference. 

Truthfully, even Bay and I needed instruction years ago, as most of us do. 


Easy answer - we all love to set up our own Kingdoms, where we are the King or the Queen, and everyone else lives by our rules.

Conflict occurs when our spouse doesn’t live by them.

However, when trust is established (and I know my spouse is FOR ME), when I agree to eliminating rats in the walls, and  when  I commit to doing the work of marriage, healthy conflict comes easier with a ready resolution promised.

The verses above need embedding on our hearts before we can even address conflict. 

They give us a base theology of how to gift our spouse with healthy conflict.

Anger isn’t the sin - what we do with anger determines the sin.

Even still, we must be slow to explode…and, then…

…we deal with the problem as quickly as possible (note: attacking the problem, never the person).

…we take enough time prior to conflict-engagement so we never enter the situation when emotions are running high and tensions are tight.

At this point, we are able to truthfully, gently, kindly, present our perspective and explain how things brought us to the heat of differing opinions. 

There are always two sides…so instead of just pointing fingers and placing blame at “the other,” we have to pay attention, examine our own hearts, and take ownership for where we are at fault.

Being quick to ask forgiveness and even quicker to forgive are essential. 

Can I remind you what forgiveness looks like? It looks like keeping no record of wrongs - never bringing the issue up again to ourselves, to God, to our spouse, and of course, never to others. Forgiveness looks like wiping the slate clean, and granting one-another a do-over. There are thousands upon thousands of begin-agains in every successful marriage.

There will always be potential for anger in relationship resulting in conflict…but…the Lord gives us a ready, strong, Biblical model that keeps us steady in conflict and much more able to come to a greater understanding of one another. 


The result is a hopeful journey through life with incredible beauty formed in each of us.