A Marriage that is Merry and Bright!

Christmas DateBeing the romantic at heart, Christmas provides many opportunities for strengthening your marriage.  There is enough unnecessary stress during the holidays.  Therefore, instead of bowing to Grinch stress, let me offer some helpful suggestions to make your marriage “be merry and bright.”

Men, take 15 minutes.  Get your December calendar and mark out at least five days you and your wife can have a date.  Come on, men.  Get up right now.  Go get your calendar.  Got your pen?  Now, write “Date w/ _______” in five day boxes on your calendar.  If you don’t plan it, most likely it will not happen.  Furthermore, when someone invites you to another activity, you say, “Sorry.  I have something already planned for that day.”  Your wife will see that she is your top priority, and the mistletoe will become even more special to both of you!!!

“After the Kids Go to Bed” Date:  You did not marry your kids.  You married your wife, and she needs you to spend time with her without interruptions.  So, meet in a cozy place in your home.  Make or purchase your favorite snack and drink.  Play some soft Christmas music in the background.  Play a game, work on a puzzle, watch your favorite Christmas movie, . . . just do something together AND SILENCE YOUR PHONES.  When you are done, read Luke 2:1-20, and pray together.

“Fireplace” Date:  Find a location with a fireplace such as a restaurant (Panera, Chop House, Cracker Barrel), a coffee shop (local) or a hotel lobby (Grove Park Inn; DreamMore Resort, Dollywood).  Sit as close as possible to the fire . . . and to each other.  After securing a coffee/hot tea and pastry, just talk.  Ask each other the questions.  Enjoy each other’s company.  Block out the rest of the world.  Check out this website for some good discussion starters: 50 Question to Strengthen Your Marriage  (Don’t get distracted by the other articles on the blog site.  Stay on point.)

“Book Store” Date:  Locate a table near the coffee shop of a local bookstore or a reading couch.  After you’ve found your spot, then you begin your three to five round search for books.  On each round, both of you look for a book for that round’s subject.  Give about 5 minutes for each search. Once you have found your book, return to your location.  Taking turns you share your findings with each other by reading a portion of the book to each other, discuss it, and then return the books at the same time. From there, go find the next round’s subject and repeat as described above.

  • Round One:  Find a children’s book that was one of your favorites as a child.
  • Round Two:  Find a cookbook that has one of your favorite recipes.
  • Round Three: Find a book that gives info and pictures of a place you would like to visit.
  • Round Four:  Find a book of romantic poetry.  (Be sure to read the poem you found to your spouse.)
  • Round Five: Find a clean joke book.  (My wife and I have laughed so hard tears ran down our cheeks.)

When you have completed this fun, romantic, insightful evening, men, share your next date idea with your wife.  Watch her reaction!!

“Grocery Store” Date:  Men, you probably don’t go to the grocery store with your wife.  May I just say, you are missing out! Truth is, every time you’re with your wife, especially alone (if you have children still at home), it should be an event, not just another trip out with “what’s-her-name.”  My wife and I have had more fun over the years shopping together, even at midnight.  And your wife will definitely need to buy groceries for the Christmas season.

As you stroll the aisles, certain food items make for good conversation.  The music played throughout the store can create a dance moment right there on Aisle 8 (It’s ok to dance….it’s your wife!).  The card section makes for some good laughs as you read humorous cards to each other or tender moments as you share the romantic ones with each other (That way you don’t have to complain about the price of cards or wonder what romantic thing you can say to each other!!).

“Light It Up” Date:  Prepare your favorite hot drink, bring along some snacks, warm up the car, and go for a drive looking at Christmas lights.  Be sure to listen to Christmas music.  Hold hands; drive slow; enjoy the moments; stop for a kiss here and there; and if it’s snowing, get out of the vehicle, walk in the snow for a block or two (snowballs are allowed, too)!

God created marriage and expects us to rejoice with the wife of our youth (Proverbs 5:18).  Husbands, brighten your Christmas and your marriage!

May Your Days Be Merry and Bright

 

Life Is Never Boring

Back yard

A peek into my Thursday:

Up at 5:30.

Dunkin Donuts coffee, time in the Word and prayer on my back porch while watching the fog roll in. . . and then out.

Write in my journal.

Send out a few texts to encourage others.

See pictures of a new grandbaby of one of our church family.

Take coffee to my wife.

Read the newspaper, my wife and daughter’s blog, and a few tweets.

Add a few pictures to our church Facebook page.

See what’s been happening in the world via World Magazine site.

Receive an encouraging word from an “everydayer” texter.

Communicate with a missionary concerning an upcoming visit in September.

Talk to a guest speaker who is coming this Sunday night to preach.

Send anniversary greetings to one of my dear friends.

Help my wife a bit in the kitchen as she prepares food to minister to a burdened soul.

Rejoice over answered prayer!!!  Watch God at work!!

Put some of the final touches on Sunday AM’s message.

Leave a “Love is . . . ” cartoon for my wife on the towel covering the freshly baked bread.

Receive a phone call that brings tears of joy!!

Lunch on the back porch.

Begin working on Ephesians study.

Hurt for the tragedy in Barcelona, Spain.

Get rid of a stack of stuff that is not necessary.

Answer emails.

See some church family in the parking lot of a local store.  The smiles on their boys’ faces was priceless.

Listen to, counsel and pray with two lives that are bent and broken under the load of sin.  Grateful for the healing balm of God’s Word.

Watch others minister to the hurting.

Disciple a new believer.

Listen to a song that causes my heart to rejoice because the song repeats the phrase, “In the middle of it all, there is Jesus.”

Share a few thoughts for Sunday’s bulletin.

Enjoy an Ale-8.

Count blessings.

Reflect on some of my reading from this morning in 2 Kings 3 where Elisha tells King Jehoshaphat, For thus says the LORD, . . . This is a light thing in the sight of the LORD (3:17-18).

Have watched God at work all day through the mundane and the important.  Nothing is too hard for our God. It is always a light thing for Him because “in the middle of it all, there is Jesus.”

We’re Still Havin’ Fun!

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Today, Denise and I celebrate 36 years of marriage!  What a ride!  We’ve had our “ups” as we anticipated what may come ahead, our “downs” that almost took our breath away, and “twists and turns” that had us leaning against each other and the Lord with our hands in the air or holding on for dear life!

Truth is, the journey has been, is, and will continue to be fantastic!!  Outside of my personal relationship with God the Father through Christ Jesus alone (John 3:16; 10:28-30; Romans 10:9-13), being married to my precious, adorable sweetheart has been the best part of my life!

Having said that, today has not turned out as expected or planned.  Our original destination for two nights was a beautiful bed & breakfast tucked back in the woods along Watts Bar Lake, Whitestone Inn.  That had to be cancelled Monday morning.

Plan #2 was the option of a) Brunch at Well-Bred Bakery, Weaverville, NC, and then Afternoon Tea at the Biltmore Inn, followed up with a drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway to a cottage on Watauga Lake, or b) Brunch at Blackbird Bakery, Bristol, VA and dinner at The Mast Farm Inn, Valle Crucis, NC, with a stay at the cottage.  That had to be cancelled last night.

For a long time now, I have cut out the Love Is cartoons from the newspaper (Yes, I still read a daily newspaper!), and leave them somewhere for Denise.  Today’s cartoon sums up our 36th Anniversary.

Love Is cartoon

No matter, we are still havin’ fun . . . even though Denise has been sick since last Thursday with last night being the worst. (Doesn’t sound like much fun to her, I’m sure, bless her heart.)

What a gal!  Even though she didn’t feel good, she got up, fixed her hair, did the makeup routine, and put on something she knew I liked and would be comfortable for her.  I “scolded” her for going to such trouble, but her reply, “I wanted to look good for you on our anniversary.”  Tear in the eye right there and an enlarged heart!  She’s a keeper!!

Near noon she said in the words of Pooh Bear, “My tummy’s rumbling.”  “What sounds good to you,” I asked.  Her reply surprised me, “Onion rings!”  Well, that demanded a take-out order from Cheddar’s for a World-Class Chicken sandwich, cole slaw, and onion rings.  As we sat on the back porch, one of our most favorite spots in the world, we enjoyed our meal, although she didn’t eat much, and I read my anniversary card from her.  . . tears and an enlarged heart, again!

Today is a very special day for us, and we like to make much of special days.  But in reality, today is like any other day because being married to Denise is special and marriage is very special.  That’s why we work at it every day, seriously.

We’re still havin’ fun, and she’s still the one . . . ‘til death do us part or Christ comes in the rapture (1Thessalonians 4:13-18).

What’s fun special about your marriage today?  It’s your choice.

From a pastor’s heart,

Dale

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Keeping Your Marriage Fresh – Part 2

Dale & Denise

So what did you do yesterday to add some freshness to your marriage?  Here’s six more suggestions to help you get fresh with each other!

  1. Work at your marriage every day. Marriage is never static; it never runs on auto-pilot.  You are either making deposits or withdrawals.  It’s the little things you do each day that make the big things you do, big!  Little things like:
  • A love note on the bathroom mirror (dry erase marker).
  • Opening the car door for your wife.
  • A wink across the room.
  • A dance step or two on Aisle 5 at Kroger’s when you hear a love song being played.
  • A lingering kiss on the curb of the parking lot before leaving the restaurant or on the porch just as you arrive home from that romantic date night. (Be sure to ask the hostess for a corner table)
  • Saying, “I love you.”
  1. Read books about marriage. Men, it has been said, “Leaders are readers.” Since you are the leader in your relationship, I recommend a new book by Robert Wolgemuth, Like the Shepherd, Leading Your Marriage With Love and Grace.   Ladies, my wife suggests the book What’s It Like to Be Married to Me?: And Other Dangerous Questions by Linda Dillow.
  2. Put down your smartphone and talk. Enough said.
  3. Have a set time for the children to go to bed. They are precious souls, but they can be a major hindrance to a healthy marriage.  They need their rest; your marriage needs your undivided attention.  By the way, make sure the kiddos sleep in their own bed . . . not with you.  One day you will have to say “good-bye” to them.  When you do, you want a fresh marriage not a “and who are you?” marriage.
  4. Get out of that rut! If you have been married for any length of time, there’s the potential for a rut-marriage.  So make some plans to be creative.
  • Try some different foods for supper.
  • Take a different route home; not the logical way. Enjoy the journey.
  • Sit on the same side of the booth at a restaurant.
  • Do something wild & crazy!
  • Enjoy intimacy at a different time of the day . . . make it a surprise!
  1. Take care of yourself. As you age, things start to shift and your body changes.   Watch what you eat.  Exercise.  Stay healthy.

Marriage is a grace gift from God.  Be sure to steward this gift in a way that will glorify Him and encourage your spouse.  The Lord will help you if you seek His face.  He wants your marriage to be the best.

So, stay fresh by getting’ fresh with each other, again.  If you need further inspiration, read Song of Solomon.

Keeping Your Marriage Fresh

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June is a good month to get married.  Just ask the thousands who will walk an aisle during this month to promise their lives to each other “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge myself to you.”

June 20th, my wife and I will celebrate 36 years together.  Those years have contained many, many days of laughter and joy, many days of burdens and sorrows, and many, many days of answered prayer.  God has been so good to us.

Today, I want to share with you five ways to keep your marriage fresh even after 36 years.  Tomorrow, I’ll give you five more.

  1. Be assured of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ alone. “God made all of us to have a personal, vibrant relationship with Him. Whoever you are and wherever you’ve been, God is personally interested in you and longs to share a close relationship with you.”  Watch the following video to learn more about the most important relationship: The Gospel
  2. Live together in the Word of God. Since God has created marriage, the best place to learn how marriage is to operate is to read the Creator’s Word.  Share with each other what God has personally taught you in His Word and read the Word together.  The Word of God is never stale, so glean from its fresh manna everyday.
  3. Pray together. One of the best ways to keep your marriage fresh and to stay connected is to pray throughout the day together, at meals, when burdens arise, when wisdom is needed, and before you drift off to sleep.
  4. Have fun. It is so easy to grow old in your marriage, get used to each other, and then forget how to enjoy life. Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Keep a light heart.  Laugh with each other; laugh at yourself.  I mean, who needs comedians? We have people!  We are just funny!
  5. Keep on dating. Men, remember what you did to win your girl’s heart?  Go back to those days.
  • You can have a quiet date on the back porch after the kids go to bed . . . star gazing!
  • Take a walk around the neighborhood and hold hands. Stop along the way to enjoy the flowers, the scenery, and each other. Kissing is permitted on the sidewalk in public!
  • Buy one ice cream cone and share it as you sit in your car listening to the old songs of your dating years. When the ice cream is gone, put your arms to good use!
  • Play a game and enjoy a bowl of popcorn.

So, what will you do today to get fresh, be fresh, and live refreshingly with your spouse?

From a pastor’s heart,

Dale

Clippin’ Grace Coupons

The complete life of a believer in Christ is all about grace.  We deserve an eternity in hell because we are sinners under the wrath of God (Romans 3:9-30; Ephesians 2:1-3).  We are totally unrighteous (Romans 3:10).  But when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Romans 10:9-13), God accepts us in Christ by His grace (Ephesians 1:6; 2:8-9).  From that point on, we live by God’s grace, we are sustained by God’s grace, and we are empowered to live for Him by grace as His disciple (Matthew 4:19; Luke 14:26-27, 33).

So, whenever I write this post about clippin’ grace coupons, it is my way of recognizing the truth of Ephesians 2:7, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  God is so very good to us, and sometimes like Andy Griffith would say, “Extreee good!”

Here’s a few grace  coupons God has allowed me to clip in the past two weeks.

Grace Coupon #1:  Running toward the sunrise at the beach

Denise and I love to get up early on vacation and watch the awesome display of God’s handiwork!  She walks, and I run.  What a time we have together!

Grace Coupon #2:  Seeing the elk at Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountain Park

What a special treat to hike this area as well as Big Creek with a dear friend and fellow hiker, Rick Stoner!

Grace Coupon #3:  The Beauty of Cataloochee

Grace Coupon #4:  Singing in the Sun 2017

What a special treat to attend two nights and hear such groups as Mark Trammell Quartet, Brian Free & Assurance, The Talleys, Gold City, and Triumphant Quartet.  Better than the singing was the preaching of Evangelist C.T. Townsend and Dr. Herb Reavis and seeing many souls come to Christ!!  A special thank you to the Life FM for the great seats.

An unexpected blessing on the second night was to sit right behind a young girl from back home, her husband and their daughter.  Then, to find out that a dear friend of mine and his wife were a section over from us!  He and I have shouted, praised the Lord, wept, and rejoiced at many Southern Gospel concerts.

 

Grace Coupon #5:  Worshiping With Our Daughter & Son-in-Law, Whitney & Paul

A Towers or Del-Mar Marriage

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Last week, my wife and I had a great time away for four days at our favorite beach location, Towers on the Grove, North Myrtle Beach, SC.  We like the fact that it’s located at the northeast end of the Grand Strand, that the people population is sparse, and that the facilities are always clean, updated, and given constant attention.

On a personal note, having lived in Myrtle Beach in the late 60’s, time spent at the beach brings back many memories.  In past vacation trips, I have driven by the house we lived in and found it in need of repair.  Last week while driving down Ocean Boulevard in North Myrtle Beach, I saw where one of the Del-Mar Motel that remained from the 50-60’s era had been leveled.  Then as we drove through other areas of the beach, we saw even more buildings that have deteriorated over the years.

Del Mar Inn

Marriage is like a drive around Myrtle Beach.  Just as a building/house needs constant upkeep to remain fresh, just like Towers on the Grove as opposed to the Del-Mar Inn, marriage needs daily attention to keep it fresh.

One truth, among others, that has guided Denise and me through our soon to be 36 years of marriage is this:  You must work at your marriage every day.  Marriage does not operate efficiently on auto-pilot.  As a matter of fact, there is no default setting for marriage called auto-pilot.  Today, your marriage is continuing to be fresh or it is deteriorating.  The choice is totally up to you.

Look at your marriage.  What areas need improvement, a “fresh coat of paint”?  Is there a squeaky board or door that needs attention?  How about some weeds in the front lawn that need to be replaced with some fresh flowers?

Ask the Lord in prayer to reveal what areas of your marriage need attention.  Talk about it with your spouse.  Come up with a plan of action, areas of change that will occur, what it will take to make this action work, and then dive into the project together!  Enjoy the work!  Stop and kiss every once-in-awhile.  Hug each other.  Text one another.  Go back to the sweetness of dating days and do it again!

May I also add, do not take for granted any successful area of your marriage.  As soon as you do, it won’t take long for the shutters to start clapping against the wall, if you know what I mean.

By the way, one of the major reasons Denise and I went away last week was to work on our marriage.  We intentionally put these times in our calendar.  Marriage is too precious of a gift from God to let it get old, cold, and decaying (Genesis 2:18-25; Ephesians 5:18-33).

A Towers marriage takes daily attention and prayer.  A Del-Mar marriage ends up like this motel that was once a new motel that became known in latter years for bed-begs, drugs, and prostitution. Now it is no longer standing. Sadly, too many marriages become like the Del-Mar Inn.

Get to work, folks!  The choice is yours.  Start today!

The Day After Valentine’s

 

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Valentine’s Day is always a very special day for married lovebirds!!  Red roses, boxes of chocolates, dinner dates, romantic venues, recalling of Valentine’s Days of the past, perfume, cards, terms of endearment left on sticky notes all over the house, pictures posted on Facebook and Instagram, communications of the degree of love for each other, and on and on it goes for this special day!!

But . . . what about today, the day after Valentine’s Day?  You put much thought into how you would express your love to your Sweetheart.  You went out of your way to purchase that perfect gift.  You fantasized in your mind the most romantic setting and fulfillment for this special day.  You wrote down your thoughts of love and appreciation in a card.  You made sure the whole world knew about it on Facebook.

All of this took intentional thought and effort.

This leads to me say one crucial thing about how to keep your marriage moving forward, to keep it hummin’!

You have to work at it every day! 

No, you don’t have to buy a $75 bouquet of flowers or have a candlelight dinner at Ruth’s Chris every day. You intentionally . . .

  • Verbalize your love to each another
  • Kiss (Eliminate the peck!)
  • Pray together
  • Hold hands
  • Look at each other
  • Seat your wife at the table
  • Pray together
  • Hug each other
  • Serve each other
  • Enjoy a 5-minute date in the pantry with the door closed
  • Leave love notes
  • Pray together
  • Share what God has taught you from His Word
  • Laugh together
  • Hold each other
  • Speak words of encouragement
  • Enjoy being with each other
  • Listen to each other
  • Pray together
  • Forgive each other
  • Make sure your spouse comes before your children
  • Make sure your spouse knows you love him/her more than the children
  • Pray together
  • Be gracious to each other
  • Touch each other
  • Pay attention to each other like your mate was Facebook
  • Wash her car
  • Pray together
  • Bake him his favorite cookies
  • Do the things you did when you were dating . . . even many years later
  • Keep having fun (Don’t grow old grumpy!)
  • Pray together

So, what are your intentional plans for your lovebird today, the day after Valentine’s Day?

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On the Same Page Together

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Yesterday I received my daily email from All-Pro Dad, and the post for Wednesday was entitled, 4 Areas You and Your Wife Need to Be on the Same Page

The four areas are:

  1. Touching throughout the day.
  2. Spending money wisely.
  3. Making big decisions together.
  4. Having an Open-Heart policy.

BONUS: Closing the day in prayer

These four things are spot-on, but what caught my attention was the title of the article and the bonus.  They describe the real need of every marriage.

The page that every marriage should work from each day is a page from God’s Word.

The bonus in every marriage, every day is prayer!

You see, God, the Creator of marriage between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18-25), is also the Author of God’s Word.  Therefore, for a husband and wife to be blessed and have an honorable marriage, they will work off the same page . . . the page(s) of God’s Word.

Since God is righteous (Psalm 145:17), then all His ways, counsel, direction, and wisdom is right.  You want to know what’s right for your marriage, then both of you work off the same page, God’s Word!

Husband and wives should read the Word together, share with each other what God teaches you each day-by-day from the Word, faithfully attend a Bible teaching and preaching church, be exposed to biblical preaching via podcasts or radio, attend camps and conferences where you can learn the Word together, and live your lives in accordance to God’s right path (Joshua 1:8-9; Psalm 1:1-6; 19:7-14).

Proverbs 14:11 reminds us, There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.  Since marriage is the union of two selfish individuals whose way seems always best to themselves, it is most wise to walk in the counsel of God’s righteous Word.

The power and place of God’s Word is on display in Psalm 119.  Here’s an action plan. How about each day, you and your spouse read one eight-verse section from Psalm 119.  Take turns reading each verse out loud and stopping after each verse to listen to God and share with each other how that verse applies to your life and marriage.  Then jot down in a journal your thoughts, biblical plans, and the righteous path God has revealed to you as you read, discuss and meditate on the Word.

Finally, enjoy the BONUS—pray together.  Don’t just wait until the end of the day.  Find yourselves praying for and with each other throughout the day and night.  The absolute best place to go with your spouse is to the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Now, that’s really working off the same page!!