Are You Up for a Challenge?

Being Married is Like Riding a Bike

Twenty-seven years, two days, eleven hours, and thirty-nine minutes. That’s how long I’ve been married to my husband.

You might think that after more than a quarter of a century, we’d have this marriage thing down pat. That by now, the hard work would be behind us. That maybe we could just coast through the rest of our marriage with the wind on our faces, enjoying the view.

You might also think that writing books on love and respect would so cement those concepts in my mind that I’d no longer struggle with them myself.

But if you thought any of those things (like I sometimes do in my naiveté), you’d be wrong.

Marriage is like riding a bike. You can only coast for so long before losing your momentum and falling over. You’ve got to keep pedaling if you don’t want to crash.

That’s part of the reason I signed up for Revive Our Heart’s new 30-Day Respect Challenge over the weekend.

I’ve been waiting since February for this challenge to be released. That’s when Revive Our Hearts first contacted me about turning my book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect, into a 30-day Challenge.

I enthusiastically agreed and provided the extra 5 days worth of material they requested, then waited eagerly for their design team to get everything else ready.

The process took several months, but last Friday, on my own 27th wedding anniversary, the project was finally completed and released.

I signed up for it immediately, wanting to experience the challenge myself and thinking it would be a nice review. At least on a subconscious level, I imagined myself being able to check, check, check off each day’s challenge. After all, I wrote the book. It should be old hat by now, right?

Well, the first day’s challenge was delivered to my inbox yesterday morning. It took all of sixty seconds to read, but brought with it something I wasn’t really expecting: Conviction.

Not initially, but within an hour of reading it.

I’d checked my email before church and found the first day’s challenge waiting for me: CHOOSE JOY. Been there. Done that. I’m a naturally happy person, so I marked that off my list and moved on.

Flash forward forty-five minutes, and I was sitting at a breakfast table in a bagel cafe listening to my husband recount how he’d fed the goldfish before we left for church that morning.

We have an unusually friendly goldfish who lives in a bowl on a ledge behind our kitchen sink. He swims to our side of the bowl every time anybody comes into the kitchen, wagging his tail like a puppy and begging for food. My husband, especially, finds this behavior impossible to resist.

But unbeknownst to Doug, I’d already fed the fish when I first got up. And I’d changed the water in his fishbowl, too.

And so I immediately began quizzing my husband on how many pellets he’d dropped into the bowl. And reminding him that if he gives the fish more than three or four at a time, they sink to the bottom faster than Gill can eat them. And explaining that when food sits in the bottom of the bowl, it turns the water murky, which means I have to change it every other day instead of once or twice a week.

Can you sense what’s happening here? I’m getting testy over four extra flakes of fish food! My husband’s been as generous with the fish as he is with all the people in his life, and I’m letting that fact threaten to steal my joy.

That’s how easily I’m tripped up at times.

But fortunately for all of us, that first day’s challenge was fresh on my mind, and it helped me to recognize this situation for what it truly was: An opportunity to CHOOSE JOY. A chance to practice what I preach. A moment that called for grace and love and respect and thankfulness.

And so, mid-way into my exasperated lecture on The Proper Way to Feed a Fish, I stopped and chose to laugh instead.

I smiled at my husband and told him how much I love him. Our family had an absolutely wonderful day worshipping together, sharing meals, and fellowshipping with dear friends.

And the fishbowl was still crystal clear when we got home.

I’m looking forward to the next 29 days of this free 30-Day Challenge. I think it’s going to be a great time of growth for me and of blessing for my husband. Want to join me? You can sign up here.

And if you’d like more than a 60-second synopsis of each chapter, I’d encourage you to get the book. When you order a print copy through Revive Our Hearts, you help support their wonderful ministry worldwide.

Or, if you’d prefer reading a digital copy, you can get it on your Kindle for just 99-cents through Wednesday of this week.

Why I Keep Saying “Yes” to Sex

Why I Keep Saying Yes to Sex | a word to wives from lovinglifeathomeAuthor Leah Holder wrote a terrific post this week for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, which she entitled Why I Keep Saying “No” to Sex.

The gist of the article is this: She says “no” because she is not yet married.

Sexual purity is important to her because it is important to God, and she has therefore made a commitment to save sex for marriage, however unpopular or difficult such a decision has sometimes seemed.

The Bible is very clear in its stance regarding sex outside of marriage. (Colossians 3:5; Hebrews 13:4)

The reason we have the skyrocketing rates of STDs, abortion, divorce, and single-parent families we see today is because far too many people have ignored God’s guidelines in the area of sex for far too long.

But there is a flip-side to the coin: The Bible also speaks clearly about what our attitude toward sex should be once we’ve walked down the aisle. (1 Corinthians 7:2-5) Sex between husband and wife, says God, is a good thing. (Genesis 2:24-25; Genesis 1:28, 31)

Sex within the context of marriage is part of His perfect design. That is why I keep saying “yes” to sex within the context of mine:

  • Sex is Protective
  • I’ll be honest. I didn’t fully appreciate how vitally important sex would be to my husband (and to my marriage), until after I’d married him. Like the vast majority of men, my husband likes to have sex. Often. After my early attempts to lower his expectations concerning frequency failed to convince him, I did what I should have done from the start: I changed my priorities to match his. Sure, I could have stubbornly insisted he wait for the weekend. He married me for better or worse, and — being a man of integrity — I believe he would have honored his vows regardless. But much of the joy and happiness and satisfaction and delight that comes from fully embracing God’s purpose for passion in marriage would have been forfeited had I done so. And it would also have made it far more difficult to resist the many, many, many temptations that daily present themselves in this sexually-charged culture, if he didn’t have a wife at home who is ready and willing to take care of his needs. To deny your husband physically is to leave him vulnerable and unprotected. (1 Corinthians 7:5) It is foolishly shortsighted. Why would any thinking woman do it?

  • Sex Promotes Good Health
  • There is not a vitamin, supplement, or herb on the market that benefits our bodies as much as monogamous sex in a loving relationship: It boosts energy and immunity; increases longevity; decreases the risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease; alleviates stress, anxiety, and depression; strengthens and tones muscles; improves mental and emotional health; promotes deeper, more satisfying sleep; and fosters a more youthful looking appearance… just to name a few. Want to know more? The first 11 chapters of my book, Love Your Husband/ Love Yourself, discuss in detail the studies that support these and myriad other blessings that come from prioritizing sex in marriage.

  • Sex is Pleasurable
  • My husband took me out for a hibachi dinner date a couple of nights ago, and the other people at our table complimented our deft use of chopsticks. Where did you learn to do that? they wanted to know.The answer? We first visited a hibachi grill on our honeymoon, and my husband thought it would be fun to eat the entire meal with chopsticks, so we did (albeit very awkwardly). With every bite, more food fell back to our plate than made it to our mouth. But after 27 years of practicing every time we go out for Asian food of any sort, we’ve steadily improved so that now we’re both very comfortable and adept at eating with chopsticks. You may not realize it, but a similar thing happens with sex. Sex may be novel and new on your honeymoon, but it just gets better and better with practice, so don’t give up or quit too soon. I can testify that after 27 years, sharing physical intimacy with my husband is more pleasurable than I ever imagined possible when we were first getting started. What was fun but fumbling and awkward in the beginning, is still fun but has become more natural and easy over time.

  • Sex is Procreative
  • I love babies, and sex makes babies, so that’s just one more reason to love sex! While it is true that God intended sex for marital oneness, that’s only half the story. He also intended it for fruitfulness. And one of the advantages to embracing this aspect of sex is that it makes for greater spontaneity — no pills to pop or scrambling around in the heat of the moment for a misplaced diaphragm. Of course, being open to children does not automatically guarantee you a Duggar-sized family — we’ve known lots of couples who would’ve loved to have lots of children, but were only blessed with one or two despite never doing anything to prevent pregnancy. Still, there remains an obvious link between having sex and having babies, and the more comfortable you are with that fact, the easier it will be to fully enjoy the physical part of your marriage relationship.

  • Sex is Part of God’s Plan
  • God made sex. He made it for a purpose, and He made it good. Even if your marriage isn’t what it should be — or if sex with your husband isn’t what you thought it would be — you can still choose to live in cooperation and obedience to God’s original purpose and plan for sex in marriage. If your husband shows interest when you’re not in the mood, accept his advances anyway. Willingness often precedes desire for many wives, and responding positively and sincerely to your husband’s romantic overtures will put you in the mood in a hurry. If you are interested when your husband is not, initiate sex yourself. Admire him, flirt with him, and encourage him every chance you get, praying that God transform this aspect of your relationship into everything it was meant to be.

In our society today, I know a lot of women say yes, yes, yes to sex before marriage, and a lot of wives say no, no, no to sex afterwards. This is completely backwards. In the end, such practices lead only to heartache, frustration, disease, and constant emotional turmoil. This was never God’s plan for sex.

If you are single, do everything you can to protect this vulnerable side of yourself and save it for marriage, then share it with one person, completely and consistently, for the rest of your life.

If you are married, don’t treat sex like some rare, exotic spice to be sprinkled sparingly on special occasions. Realize, instead, that sex was meant to be a staple for married couples — more akin to bread and water or meat and potatoes — and should be enjoyed regularly in liberal amounts. Doing so will strengthen, support, and sustain your marriage like nothing else.

Lost & Found

Lost & Found | a touching story of a father's love... must read!It was a stupid thing to do. That much is obvious.

Normally, I would have spent recess swinging or sliding or riding on the merry-go-round. But that day, I sat alone at the edge of the playground holding my new ring, admiring the way it caused the sunlight to dance in my hand.

The ring was a birthday gift from my parents — a tiny diamond (April’s birthstone) set in the center of a small gold flower.

I was seven at the time — too young for anyone to have mistaken it for an engagement ring — but my mother still insisted I wear it on my right hand.

Only that day at recess, I wasn’t wearing it at all. I was playing with it. I was playing a game I called “Digging for Buried Treasure.”

First, I’d bury my little ring in the sand, then I’d dig, dig, dig until I found it. Then I’d bury it a little deeper, and dig a little longer until I uncovered it again.

And so the game continued: the ring was lost, then found, then lost, then found, then lost… then the bell rang.

Frantically I searched as my classmates lined up to march back inside the school building, but to no avail.

The teacher called my name, tapped her foot, pointed to her watch, jerked her thumb toward the double doors behind her.

I tried to explain why I couldn’t possibly leave. Not now. Not yet. But she insisted, and I spent the rest of the day distraught and distracted in my little school desk, staring out the window and wondering if I would ever see my beautiful ring again.

When the final bell rang that day, I ran home in tears to tell my mother what had happened.

She listened to my hysterical cries and did her best to calm and comfort me. “Just wait until your Daddy gets home,” she soothed. “He’ll know what to do.”

And he did.

With eyes full of compassion, he tenderly took my hand and led me back to the school yard.

As we walked together, he didn’t scold. He didn’t lecture. He didn’t tell me how foolish I had been or how easily I could have avoided this situation or how it would serve me right if I never got the ring back.

He didn’t grouse or grumble or complain.

Instead, he acted as if he’d been waiting all day for a chance to come home and dig in the sand with his little girl. All I sensed was love and sympathy and a stubborn determination to find what was lost.

The playground sprawled across a good two acres, much of which was covered in 4-5 inches of sand. Daddy asked me to point out the general vicinity where I’d been playing, then told me to hunt there. But instead of digging beside me, he strolled to the nearest entrance and began combing through the sand with his fingers.

Slowly, systematically, he worked his way toward me, all along the retaining wall, sifting the sand as he went.

After about twenty minutes of digging, he uncovered a cut stone, but it was too big to be mine, so he kept searching.

Another ten, twenty, thirty minutes passed. The sun was sinking low on the horizon. But Daddy kept looking. Patient. Persistent. Unperturbed.

Then, just as it was growing too dark to search any longer, the last grains of sand fell through his fingers to reveal my beloved ring!

My father had the most beautiful smile — pearly white teeth with a small gap between the top two. The light was too dim and my eyes too flooded with tears for me to see his smile that night, but I could hear it in his voice as soon as he called my name, and I knew.

He had found what was lost.

He had accomplished what he’d set out to do. And my heart was filled to bursting with gratitude for that Daddy of mine.

My father wasn’t perfect. Like all parents, he sometimes made mistakes. His patience occasionally wore thin. There were plenty of times that I got the lecture (or other appropriate discipline) I so well deserved — dished out with love, to be sure, but without such obvious compassion.

But on that balmy night of yore, he was as perfect as a Daddy can get.

I cannot tell you how often I’ve reflected on that scene from my childhood, for my father’s pivotal response affected me in many unforeseen and far-reaching ways:

  1. It affected the way I approach my problems:
  2. My father’s calculated response impressed on me how important it is to remain calm and collected, even (and especially) during times of upset and stress. My frantic and random pawing at the ground earlier in the day had been completely ineffectual. Daddy’s slow, methodical approach took time, but yielded the exact result I was hoping and praying for. Daddy showed me that cool heads prevail, a lesson I’ve carried with me into adulthood.

  3. It affected the way I parent my children:
  4. I don’t remember everything Daddy ever said to me growing up, but I remember how he made me feel: Loved. Esteemed. Cherished. And I’ve done my best to communicate those same things to my own children. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I fall short. But the example my father — and my mother — set for me has made it much easier to be a good parent myself. I can model what they did with full confidence that 98% of it was right and good.

  5. It affected the way I perceive my Heavenly Father:
  6. They say that children tend to view God in the same way they view their dad. Perhaps that is true. My earthly father was wise, benevolent, and completely trustworthy, so it has never been difficult for me to trust implicitly in the wisdom, goodness, and faithfulness of my Heavenly Father. My dad’s loving response to my lost ring has given me confidence to boldly approach the Throne of Grace with other burdens and requests, great and small (including another diamond I lost forty years later). And that’s a rich heritage, indeed.

It was an incredible blessing to have the father I had. I know that’s not been the case for a lot of people. Many children growing up today do not even know their father, much less enjoy such a close relationship with him. Others have had negligent or abusive dads. That grieves my heart. It makes life much more difficult for them, but it does not leave them without hope.

Having a good father may make it easier to understand and accept the goodness of God, but God is good regardless. You can choose to believe what the Bible says about God, even if it varies widely from what you’ve experienced in your home.

God loves you. He cares for you. He is patiently seeking — even now — that which is lost.

As I’m typing these words, I’m praying again, boldly making my request known unto God. (Philippians 4:6)

But this time, dear Reader, I’m praying for you. I’m praying that you will see God for the loving Father He is, and that you will bask in that love, fully assured that He is good and wise and worthy of your complete confidence and trust.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38)

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)

5 Lessons I Learned by Losing a Diamond

5 Lessons I Learned when I Lost My Diamond (and where to look if you lose yours) from lovinglifeathome.comLast month, I lost the diamond out of my wedding ring — an irreplaceable family heirloom. It made me feel sick when I glanced down at my hand while dining in a local restaurant and noticed it missing, for how long, I didn’t know.

Years earlier, my husband’s grandmother had taken the diamond off her own finger as soon as Doug announced his intention to marry me. She reached over, patted me on the knee with a twinkle in her eye and said, “Then we’d better go get the ring sized.”

Nanny and Poppy drove us to Taylor Brothers that very morning, then Doug “officially” proposed on bended knee in their living room as soon as the ring came back from the jewelers.

A rare antique cut, the diamond had been in my husband’s family for over 120 years when it was given to me (and almost 150 years when I lost it two weeks ago).

As soon as I realized it was gone, I called my mother and asked her to pray that it would be found. I also posted a prayer request on Facebook, where I received an incredible amount of encouragement from friends there, many of whom had lost-diamond stories of their own to tell:

  • One of my friends lost her ring at Walmart, and some good Samaritan turned it in.
  • Another friend had found her lost diamond two years later, in the mouth of a whale in a pop-up book that was on its way to Goodwill!
  • Someone else lost a custom-cut, heart-shaped diamond IN THE OCEAN while honeymooning in the Caribbean. If that isn’t about as hopeless as it gets, I don’t know what is. Yet her husband spotted it wedged in the crevice of a rock on the beach almost two weeks later, the day before they were scheduled to fly home.

Even friends who hadn’t lost diamonds promised to pray and gave great suggestions for searching:

  • Hunt in the dark with a flashlight
  • Empty the vacuum bag
  • Check your dryer lint trap, sink bin, clothes closet
  • Thoroughly search the car
  • Make sure it’s not caught in your broom fibers

Of course, I thought of a few more places to search on my own:

  • In the bed linens (maybe it fell out in my sleep?)
  • Under couch cushions (no diamond, but I did find several pennies and ink pens)
  • In the fishbowl (I emptied out all the decorative rocks in the bottom and searched one by one)
  • In the flower beds (I’d spent a couple of hours there, trimming back ivy and azaleas the day before)
  • In the garbage disposal (It’s a cramped, slimy job, but the peace of mind was worth it)

Unfortunately, my diamond didn’t surface through any of that, but I kept praying, kept hoping, kept looking….

I also did a little therapeutic writing. I began a (not-yet-published) post about a diamond I lost forty-two years ago and the lessons I learned through the experience. (Watch for that story soon. It still makes me cry every time I tell it.) And I wondered what lessons God might be trying to teach me this time around. Here are a few I’ve identified thus far:

  1. The insufficiency of good intentions:
  2. My house has been in need of a deep cleaning for some time now. It has been on my to-do list for months, yet I lacked motivation to follow through with the job. In the past two weeks, however, I’ve cleaned out closets, organized drawers, scrubbed counters and cabinet fronts, dusted baseboards, defrosted my freezer, vacuumed under furniture, and culled through, sorted, and put away all manner of misplaced miscellany. My lost diamond provided just the boost I needed, as I’ve always considered systematic cleaning to be the fastest, most effective way to find things.

    The lesson, I think, is that we should go ahead and do the thing we know we need to do, instead of waiting until something drastic drives us to it. (James 4:17) Let’s reduce our stress levels before we have the heart attack. Let’s invest in our marriage before the divorce papers are served. Let’s get in shape before our health fails. Let’s make memories with our children before they grow up and leave home.

  3. The value of hope:
  4. My big-hearted husband was completely unfazed by the fact I had lost this priceless heirloom. Being the think-outside-the-box sort of guy he is, he took me straightaway to the jewelers, ready and willing to trade in what was left of my wedding set for something entirely new and different — and more than a little surprised that this idea was not met with more enthusiasm on my part.

    But thankfully, thankfully, the jeweler convinced him to wait. “You’re going to find it,” he assured us. “Give it a few days. I’ll bet that diamond will wink at you. When it does, you can bring it back in, and we’ll repair it for you.”

    Isn’t hope an amazing thing? It gives us peace when we’re troubled, strength when we’re weary, and courage when we’re frightened. That jeweler’s confidence, together with the testimonies of so many friends whose lost stones had been miraculously restored, served to buoy my faith that I’d eventually find mine, too. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

  5. The heart of God:
  6. The Bible tells us that Jesus “came to seek and save that which was lost.”(Luke 19:10) Only, He wasn’t searching for something as insignificant as an inanimate rock. Oh, no! He’d set his sights on eternal souls — Christ came to redeem you and me.

    That sense of urgency I felt about finding my lost diamond? The concern that it might be lost forever? The determination to stay alert to any sign of its whereabouts? How is it that I can retain such focus when it’s a shiny little stone in question, but am often oblivious to the infinitely more valuable treasures all around me? Those lost sheep Christ came to save. People are more important than things, and the way I live my life should reflect that fact.

  7. The importance of checking those prongs:
  8. This wasn’t the first time I’ve lost that diamond. It also fell out fourteen years ago while our family was on a 2500-mile road trip. That time, it was miraculously recovered a week later by one of our children — subsequently dubbed “Diamond Dave” — who spotted it under the back seat of our Suburban amid broken crayons and cracker crumbs at a pit stop in Virginia.

    The stone was originally set with four prongs (which held up remarkably well considering all the scrubbing, painting, kneading, and digging I’d done with that diamond on my hand); however, we decided to remount with six, assuming that would be sufficient to keep it safe. Obviously, it wasn’t. Had I been smart about it, I would have taken my rings back to the jeweler more routinely, so he could inspect the prongs and make sure everything was still secure.

    A similar thing sometimes happens in our spiritual walk. We get baptized in infancy or pray a prayer in childhood and mistakenly believe our future is secure because of it — regardless of how we’ve lived our lives since. We know that God saves us by grace through faith, and not because of any works done on our part (Ephesians 2:8-9), yet we are still called to bear fruit, and that fruit will only come when we are in close communion with the God who produces it. (John 15:1-8) If we are smart about it, we will check in with Him routinely, allowing Him to inspect us, prune us, and keep us secure in Christ.

  9. The power of prayer:
  10. Isn’t it amazing that through prayer, we have the privilege of conversing with the Creator of the Universe? I am so blessed to have so many friends and family members who are willing to pray with and for me, even about the little stuff. And I am so grateful to serve a God who promises that when we pray, He will hear and answer (Matthew 7:7-8). Sometimes He answers right away. Sometimes He asks us to wait. With respect to my diamond, it was enough for me to know that God knew exactly where it was (even if I didn’t), that He could keep it safe, and that He would give it back to me if doing so would be for my good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)

As it turns out, between all the prayers and all the cleaning, my diamond finally did resurface. Praise the LORD! It had evidently fallen out in our bathroom where it rolled under a cabinet and into a small gap in the grout between the tile and the wall (there’s one more place to check if you ever lose yours!). I’d already swept the bathroom several times in search of the lost stone, but because our pastor’s family was coming for dinner Saturday night, I decided to lay down on my stomach to scrub those hard-to-reach tiles by hand. I still couldn’t see it, but the diamond was there all the same, safe and sound, just waiting for my fingers to dislodge it from its hiding place.

Now, isn’t that a happy ending?

A Christian Father’s Rules for Dating My Daughter

Jennifer Flanders:

In the past, several readers have asked how our family handles dating/courtship, so I thought I’d share my husband’s perspective with you. Enjoy!

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 9.21.52 AM

Originally posted on All Truth Is God's Truth:

I spotted a photo in my newsfeed yesterday of the T-shirt a feminist father made to explain his expectations to anyone interested in dating his daughter. His “rules” sent a clear message: “What my daughter does is her own business, and you’ll answer to her, not to me.”

As the father of four daughters myself, I found this man’s laissez-faire attitude to be a little unsettling. I believe a dad has a moral obligation to protect his children from harm, to prepare them for life, and to provide wise counsel along the way — all of which calls for a hands-on approach to parenting.

I agree with Feminist Father on his first two points (I don’t make the rules and You don’t make the rules). However, I disagree with his conclusions, so I decided to create a little T-shirt of my own — a Christian Dad’s…

View original 161 more words

This entry was posted on Saturday, June 21, 2014 9:17 am, in Random. 4 Comments

Life with You is Awesome

The children and I have been working on this little surprise for Father’s Day, based on the theme song from The Lego Movie. Of course, it’s almost impossible to keep a secret in a household our size. Since Daddy already found out about it, I decided to publish a week early.

You’ll have to excuse the audio. Rap music is clearly not the forte of this classically trained soprano, but we had a great time putting it together, anyway… because “everything is awesome when you’re part of a team.”

And for those who are inclined to sing along, here are the lyrics for our version:

Life with You Is Awesome!

Life with you is awesome.
Life with you is cool — I’m so glad we’re a team!
Life with you is awesome, ‘cause we’re living our dream.

Married life is better when we work together.
Side by side, you and I gonna stick together, in all kinds of weather.
Man and wife, I love you, you love me, we’re both working in harmony.

Life with you is awesome.
Life with you is cool — I’m so glad we’re a team!
Life with you is awesome, ‘cause we’re living our dream.

(Woooo!) 3, 2, 1. Go!

Have you heard the news? Everyone’s talking.
Life is good and people are gawking.
Baby’s due, our family is growing.*
We’ve got love and joy overflowing.

Life with you is full of adventures
I’ll love you even when you have dentures.
Food in my teeth? Oh, that’s just awesome.
Next time, tell me when I need to floss ‘em.**
Love is blind — now I know that’s true.
It’s so awesome to be loved by you (be loved by you).

Married life is better when we work together.
Side by side, you and I gonna stick together, both now and forever.
Man and wife, I love you, you love me, we’re both working in harmony.

Life with you is awesome.
Life with you is cool — I’m so glad we’re a team!
Life with you is awesome, ‘cause we’re living our dream.

Marriage vows, wedding rings,
I just named two awesome things.
Pledged my love, said, “I do.”
You know what’s awesome? Life with you!

Clean, fresh sheets upon our bed, a feather pillow for my head.
Let’s go soak in a hot jacuzzi.
Not too long, or we’ll get woozy.

Pools, tools, jewels.
They’re awesome.
Girls with curls and pearls.
They’re awesome.
Boys enjoy their toys.
That’s awesome!
Every day of life as man and wife
Is awesome!

Life with you is awesome.
Life with you is cool — I’m so glad we’re a team!
Life with you is awesome, ‘cause we’re living our dream.


* As far as we know, there are no babies currently on the way, although it is probably just a matter of time, at least as far as grandchildren are concerned!
** This really did happen, although (thankfully) not at the wedding. It was actually on one of our first dates, when I got a whole black peppercorn lodged between my top central and lateral incisors and didn’t realize it was there until the date was over. Doug still claims he never noticed.

I Married a Sinner (and So Did He)

Nothing Else to Marry

What follows is an excerpt from my book, Love Your Husband/Love Yourself. I am posting here at the request of a blogging friend from Thankful Homemaker.

The letter quoted at the end of this passage is a personal one that Elisabeth Elliot sent me in response to a letter I mailed to her over a quarter century ago.

That was in the days before the Internet, when handwritten correspondence was still in fashion.

The ink on that correspondence has faded a bit and the stationery yellowed with age, but the advice Mrs. Elliot gave me therein is as timely today as it was then.

It deserves to be shared and taken to heart — for in a world filled with Hollywood chick-flicks and high expectations and Harlequin romances and (even) homeschool courtships, it is easy to lose sight of reality.

That reality is this: Your husband is human. He has flaws (as do you). And forgiveness will be essential if you ever hope to look beyond those flaws and build a happy, successful marriage.

~ Words of Wisdom ~

We know that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but there is a difference between philosophically acknowledging your husband’s inherent sin nature, and experientially coming face to face with a particular offense which affects you. This is where the rubber meets the road, where forgiveness becomes more than a theoretical platitude.

I first grappled with this distinction back in 1986, the year I finished college. Doug and I had met two weeks before graduation and become fast friends. We held so many things in common — values, goals, beliefs, even mannerisms — that my own mother told me she would fear we were siblings had I been adopted as Doug was.

We were soon making plans for the future, determined that our life together should be built on trust and transparency. Against the advice of all his friends, Doug was completely candid with me about his past failings, and I am eternally grateful for his honesty.

Although the events he described had occurred in the distant past, his confession was difficult for me to bear; it consumed my thoughts by day and tormented my dreams by night.

Careworn and weary, I finally wrote to Elisabeth Elliot for counsel. With her permission, I close this chapter with her response, dated September 30, 1986.

Dear Jennifer:

How my heart went out to you last night as I read your letter, just received. I understand perfectly how you felt…. Even God, who forgives the sin and casts it into the depths of the sea, does not undo the effect of that sin, nor can you…. The tears, the nightmares, the unbidden imaginary pictures that torment you — how well I empathize with all of that, and pray for your comfort and healing.

First let me say that Doug is to be commended for not allowing himself to deceive you. He must have been in an agony over the decision to tell you, knowing at least a little bit how much it would hurt.

Second, you suffer not alone, but actually and redemptively with Christ (see Colossians 1:24, Philippians 1:29, 1 Peter 4:12-13, and many other passages). This aspect of suffering is a real life-changer. Study it for the rest of your life.

Third, you suffer quite literally because of another’s sin, which is exactly what Christ did. Because He paid the price for yours, you too must be willing to pay the price for Doug’s — the price of sorrow, heartbreak, the sense of irremediable loss…. Forgiveness means absolute relinquishment of all that. It is a laying down of your life. Your dream of the “perfect” man has to go — it is this man God has given you, another sinner (there isn’t anything else to marry!) — it is this gift you receive in thanksgiving, acknowledging the fact that in this fallen, broken world, there is no place where the heart may be perfectly at rest and wholly filled except at the Spring of Living Water. Drink there, dear Jennifer, and be at peace.

Doug’s admission will always be a reminder to you that he needs your sacrificial, self giving love. When you sin against him, as you certainly will, any wife does, you will then know, when you have to ask his forgiveness, that you are two human beings in need of the Amazing Grace that saves WRETCHES!! You are, as Peter wrote, “heirs together of the grace of life.”

So forgive him freely, utterly, joyfully — for that is how Christ has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32). Bring all those awful thoughts and imaginations under the Lordship of Christ (2 Corinthians 10), and receive this man as your God-given husband, promising to honor, which means, among other things, never to bring up again that which has been put under the Blood.

I know a young woman who steadfastly refused to forgive her husband…. She has, in spite of Christian profession, destroyed her marriage, destroyed her own life, and blighted the lives of others. Don’t refuse the grace of God for your own deep needs, nor refuse to Doug the grace He will give you to forgive him.

Lovingly,
Elisabeth Elliot

I’m not sure what I had expected Elisabeth Elliot to say to me, but — twenty-eight years and twelve children later — I am so very grateful that she gave me the advice she did… and that I had sense enough to take it.

If this is an area of struggle in your life, I pray God will give you the grace to take it, too.


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