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

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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

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!!

Get to Work!!

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That’s a sign that should be posted on the front door of every married couple’s home . . . and never removed. Every marriage is a work in progress and must be worked on every day. Sadly, many marriages look like a run down, unkempt house. How did that house that once was fresh and new become one with windows broken, shingles missing, shutters banging against the wall, and many other signs of neglect and disrepair? It all started with a little neglect here and a little carelessness there. And so it is with marriage. How does that marriage which began with much fanfare and perhaps extravagance become like a broken down house?
  • You take each other for granted.
  • You stop talking to each other, face-to-face, like you did when you were dating; the terms of endearment are few.
  • You let the children take priority over your marriage relationship.
  • You permit the deception of busyness to create unhealthy separation between you.
  • You do not go to bed at the same time. (Understanding that work schedules can be a deterrent)
  • You spend more time with social media than socializing with your spouse.
  • You stop taking care of yourself. Remember how you tried to look good for a date? Why not now? You let yourself go physically, spiritually and mentally.
  • You expect to be served rather than serving each other.
  • You have not used the phrases “I’m sorry” and/or “Please forgive me” in a long, long time.
  • You haven’t held hands in a long time.
  • You live like a victim instead of a victor in Christ.
  • Your kisses are more pecks than “dating specials”!

So, how do you fix a run-down house? One room or area at a time. If you are hearing the shutter knocking against the walls of your marriage, humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and your spouse and start in one area at a time. You don’t repair a house overnight. Be proactive instead of inactive. Put the “Work in Progress” sign back up and by God’s grace, rebuild your marriage. (A good place to start is reading Ephesians 4:18-6:18 to each other.)

And What’s My Excuse?

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She has lovingly taken care of her husband since his dementia diagnosis in 2005.  Now he lies in a hospital bed at home in their beautifully decorated sun room with full-blown Alzheimer’s.  Demonstrating her marriage vows, she wipes his face, pats his head, speaks to him in terms of endearment, cleans up his bed, combs his hair, and listens for any signs of life.

Her home is beautifully attired with all the dressings for Christmas, but one stands out among all others.  Next to her beloved husband’s bed, she has prepared a second tree, “just for him, although he doesn’t even know it’s there.”

“His biological clock has not stopped working.  He wakes up nearly every morning at 5:00 a.m.”  She sleeps in the bedroom next to the sunroom so she can respond to his needs through the night.  “He will cough, but it’s not a real cough.  I think it’s just a ‘Hey, I’m awake cough,’ and I get up to go check on him.”

Sunday evening, my wife, another couple, and I stopped to sing Christmas carols to them.  She had the bar counter prepared with Christmas goodies and fourteen cups set out waiting to be filled with warm apple cider or hot chocolate.  In the midst of her trial, she had gone to great lengths to prepare for company.  I was saddened that she expected a “small crowd,” and it was only a very small crowd of four.

While visiting around the counter and enjoying the tasty treats, this dear lady said something that arrested my attention.  “Last week, I invited some of my friends here for a meal.  We had a house full.  These are folks from up on the mountain where I’m from.  I am concerned about one lady in particular.  I’m not sure she is saved.”

Wow!  I mean, wow!  Here’s a lady whose life is consumed with the care of her husband, and she intentionally prepared a large meal, invited guests to her home, and all for the purpose of sharing the gospel.  In the midst of caring for her born-again husband suffering from the awfulness of the sin-curse and will one day know no more pain or memory loss, she reaches out in compassion to those who will suffer for an eternity in hell, if they do not receive Christ as their personal Savior (John 1:12; 3:16-17).

Enough said.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).

And of some have compassion, making a difference (Jude 22).

Still Growing & Thriving After 62 Years

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Dad & Mom watching a Hallmark Christmas movie.

“Well, don’t you look handsome?”

“Here, let me get that for you.”

“Want some popcorn?”

“Here’s a blanket for you.”

“Mil and I have shared many wonderful memories with each other.”

“I love you.”

These are statements that I heard over the Thanksgiving holiday from two people who are still head-over-heels-in-love with each other . . . after 62 years.  Dad and Mom are two sinners redeemed by the blood of Christ, daily needing grace to work at their marriage, and willing to walk in that grace for God’s glory and their marriage.

My in-laws have always been a marriage inspiration to me.  I am sure my father-in-law has his equals, but no one loves their wife any more than he does, and my mother-in-law simply adores her husband.  And yes, they have had their share of conflicts, gripes, hardships, heartaches, and other marriage related issues.

What causes a marriage to continue to grow and thrive even past 62 years?  Well, the answer is found in Scripture.  The answer is found in the daily application of the following grace-enabled commands and principles.

DAILY . . .

  • Soak your soul in the grace of God (2 Corinthians 9:8; 12:9a)
  • Love one another (1 Corinthians 13)
  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10)
  • Walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26)
  • Submit to God and one another (Ephesians 5:21)
  • Comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
  • Forgive one another (Colossians 3:13)
  • Build up, encourage one another (Romans 15:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:25)
  • Bear each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2)
  • Be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving toward one another (Ephesians 4:32,
  • Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10)
  • Welcome one another as Christ welcomes us (Romans 15:7)
  • Enjoy the act of marriage with only one another (Genesis 2:25; Hebrews 13:4)
  • Make each word a gift not a gripe (Ephesians 4:29)
  • Be hospitable to one another (1 Pet. 4:9)
  • Pray for each another (James 5:16)
  • Imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1)
  • Grow in the application of God’s Word (2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 3:18)

Marriage is the creation of God and a gift from God (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:6; Ephesians 5:18-32).  He can help your marriage grow and mature as He so designed if you will submit to Him each day.  Furthermore, a marriage does not run on auto-pilot.  You must make more deposits into your marriage than withdrawals.

If your marriage has grown stale, blah, ordinary, or headed for trouble, then surrender your rights.  Get honest with God and each other.  There’s mercy and grace with the Lord (Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:16).

If your marriage is thriving, precious, meaningful, and fulfilling, keep doing what you have been doing each day.  Do not take it for granted.  Take one of the aforementioned list and work on it each day or each week. Enjoy the journey together with your eye on Christ and each other.

After our delicious Thanksgiving dinner, we went around the table and shared words of gratitude.  Denise asked, “Dad, what are you thankful for?”  His reply being a man of few words, “Many things.” And then with tears in his eyes, he pointed to Mom and simply said, “Her.” He didn’t need to say anything else.

Still growing and thriving after 62 years.