Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.

~Philippians 4:4-8

Sunday, March 20, 2011

And the Winner is....

The winner of the FREE copy of "Winning Him Without Words" is


Congratluations - I will be sending you an email to get your address so I can send you your copy.  And thank you to everyone who entered. 
I love being able to give away books and will try to do more in the future.  I've read a few really good books recently that have helped me in my marriage journey.  I will be posting reviews of those books - and who knows, I may be able to give out some copies of them as well!  So stay tuned because God has been inspiring me in many ways regarding my marriage lately and given me the desire to share that inspiration, hope and wisdom with each of you.

I will soon be posting more on covenant marriage as well as other topics that can benefit any marriage, regardless of what stage of the journey you are in.  Check back soon. 

Also, if you did not make it over to SUM last week to see my post on The Power of a Three Stranded Cord in an Unequal Marriage last Monday I invite you to check it out. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Free Book Giveaway - Winning Him Without Words

I am so excited today to introduce two very dear friends of mine, Lynn Donovan and Dineen Miller.  These two women, who have inspired me, encouraged me and prayed with me have just had their first book published - "Winning Him Without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage" and they have been so kind as to provide me with a copy to give away.  So keep reading and LEAVE A COMMENT to be entered to win a FREE copy of  this amazing book.

Lynn and Dineen have been ministering to women (and men) in spiritually mismatched marriages for quite some time now through their blog Spiritually Unequal Marriage (SUM) and this book is the next step the Lord has for them in doing His work.  These two women understand the unique issues faced by those who love the Lord but are not able to share that love with the person they care most about on this earth, their beloved spouses.  They know the frustrations, heartache, misunderstanding and lonliness that can accompany these marriages at times because they have lived through it themselves.  However, with the help of the Lord they have learned how to not only survive their differences in marriage, but to thrive despite them!  And now they are sharing that wisdom and hope with others.

This is not a "miracle-cure" on how to get your spouse saved or how to get them to be everything you've always wanted them to be.  Instead, they give practical advice on how to make changes to the one thing you can control in your marriage - yourself - and how to give up the rest to the One who is in control - God!  I truly believe there are some wonderful nuggets in this book that would benefit every marriage, whether spiritually mismatched or not.

They have written this book in such as way that as I read it, I felt that I was sitting across the table from an old friend having coffee. It is so obvious while reading that they can relate to exactly what you are experiencing and have walked the same path.  They give practical advice on how to put your trust in God, to have hope in what is often a hopeless situation and learn to enjoy and thrive in the present. They are examples of how you don’t have to wait until your husband puts his faith in God before you can truly enjoy your marriage and share a deep and intimate bond with your spouse.

I personally plan to read this book at least once a year as a reminder that God has enabled me to truly love and cherish my beloved husband whether or not he shares my faith in God.


Inside this book you'll find 10 Christ-centered keys that will release God's love into your marriage, including:
  1. Commit to Christian community
  2. Dont' save your husband, save yourself
  3. Stay connected to your man
  4. Discover the essentials to love
  5. Believe your marriage is blessed
  6. Trade perfection for authenticity
  7. Pick and choose your battles
  8. Cherish each new season
  9. Put on the armor of God
  10. Pray the most dangerous prayer
Each chapter ends with discovery questions and a prayer to help apply the information to the reader's life in practical and encouraging ways.  Also included is advice about raising children in an unequally yoked marriage and a study guide for use in a group setting.

• Know You’re Not Alone: (Lynn) Recognizing that we aren’t the only person living in an unequally yoked marriage is a key aspect to restoring hope. Having Christ in our lives enables us to view our husbands as the wonderful man God created, regardless of your different beliefs.
Don’t Save Your Husband – Save Yourself: (Lynn) The best thing I ever did was to get out of the way so that Jesus could be Jesus. I relinquished control and turned my man completely over to Christ and an unexpected, peaceful freedom emerged in our marriage.
Trade Perfection for Authenticity: (Dineen) I came to understand that many of my disappointments had come from expectations I’d placed upon him to fulfill needs he wasn’t even aware of. In the end, all I really accomplished was a heart full of resentment.

Keep Your Armor On-You’re at War! (Dineen) Instead of putting on the label of martyr in a spiritually mismatched marriage, we need to put on the label of missionaries. We need to think of ourselves as soldiers on the front lines of our marriages.

To learn more about this book please visit their website at where you can find more informaiton about the authors, reviews from others (I'm one of them!) and links to purchase the book.

And don't forget to leave a comment here for a chance to win a FREE copy of the book.  But before you do, please take a moment to watch this video of Lynn and Dineen talking about their new book.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Contract vs. Covenant Marriage

I have a question for you? You don't have to answer aloud, but I would encourage you to really think about it and examine yourself for the answer to this question. If you are married, is your marriage a contract or a covenant? How are you living out your marriage?

I've searched multiple sources for the definition of these two words and the basics come down to this:

Contract - an agreement between two parties, which creates obligations to do or not to do specific things which are outlined in the agreement. Designed to protect each person's interests in the event the other party fails to fulfill his or her obligations.

Covenant - a formal, solemn and binding agreement to engage in or refrain from a specific action.

On the surface these may not seem to be much different from one another, but upon further digging a few things stood out to me.  In regards to a contract, the purpose is to protect each person in case the other person does not perform their obligations.  Each party goes into the contract looking for specific things from the other party and the contract details out how they will be "made whole" if the other party does not give them what is expected.  In other words, both parties go into this agreement looking out for themselves and trying to protect themselves.

A covenant on the other hand has a different purpose.  I like the way Tim Alan Gardner states it in his book "Sacred Sex":
A covenant is an agreement made by choice, it's an agreement made by commitment, and it's an agreement that is in no way dependent upon what the other party does.
See the difference?  A covenant is a commitment that is made to another party and the actions of the person making the covenant are not dependent upon the other person's actions.  Each person is going into the covenant with a commitment to the other person, the focus is on the other person, not themselves.  The other characteristic I noted about a covenant is that it is given by one party and the other party chooses whether or not to accept it.  However, the acceptance by the second party does not change the commitment of the first party.  And the most profound difference I found between a covenant and a contract is that a covenant is to be permanent and irrevocable.  Since each party's commitment is not dependent upon the other party's performance, there is nothing that negates the commitment. 

An example of a covenant is given to us by Adonai Himself.  He has made a covenant with us by giving His Son to redeem us.  His side has already been committed and performed.  It is now up to us to choose to accept that covenant.  If we do not, it does not change what He has already done.  He won't revoke what He has done or go back on what He has committed to us, just because we don't accept his offer.  Instead He continues to love us and waits patiently for the time when we will accept His offer and repent.  At that time He freely gives us His forgiveness and redeems us.  Regardless of our acceptance He still loves us and continues to give us the choice.  He will not revoke the choice He has laid before us.

Marriage is to be a shadow of the relationship Adonai longs to have with us.  He created marriage as a way for a man and a woman to enter into a covenant relationship and become one flesh.  Marriage as it was intended by the Creator consists of:
  1. Focus on the needs of our spouse, not on ourselves
  2. Our performance is not based on the performance of our spouse, we can't justify neglecting our commitment based on their behavior.  Even if they choose to no longer accept our love and forgiveness, we must still offer it.
  3. Our commitment is permanent and irrevocable (once again, regardless of our spouse's actions)
When the Pharisees tried to trick Yeshua (Jesus) by asking him about divorce he answered them in Matthew 19
"Haven't you  read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and that he said, 'For this reason a man should leave his father and mother and be united with his wife and the two are to become one flesh'?  Thus they are no longer two, but one.  So then, no one should split apart what God has joined together."
Unfortunately, our world has muddied the true intention of marriage.  Even Webster's dictionary lists as one of the definitions of a contract to be "the act of marriage or an agreement to marry".  Our world sees marriage as a contract in which either party can walk away if they deem the other has not performed. 

Although different studies show slightly different numbers, most all agree that divorce rates are high - between 40-50% for 1st marriages and even higher for second and third marriages.  I truly believe this is due to our society's incorrect views on marriage.  Today's world teaches us that marriage is a contract, something that we enter into with certain expectations of our needs/wants being met.  When that does not happen we believe we have every right to hold back from fulfilling our commitments since our spouse has not performed theirs to our satisifaction.  This leads to a downward spiral where both spouses begin to hold out more and more and become even more self-focused because they see the other spouse as having failed them.  In the end this leads to either two people who are legally bound together but despise one another and are filled with bitterness or it leads to divorce. 

The Free Dictionary ( defines divorce as "a complete or radical severance of closely connected things."  If Adonai created marriage to join two flesh to become one, then divorce is a rending or tearing, a complete or radical severance of one flesh!  What kind of picture does that leave in your mind?

The Creator's intention for marriage acknowledges that we are human and will fail one another at times.  But because we enter into marriage with a focus on the other person, with an irrevocable commitment to them regardless of how they "perform" or if they are even willing to accept our commitment, we are able to look past their actions and offer forgiveness.  This is a hard model to follow though and quite honestly goes against our basic human nature which focuses on self.  We have to make a conscience effort to look past ourselves, our needs, our hurts and focus on the needs of the other person.  It is not natural for us, however it is the only way to truly make a marriage work.  To truly become one flesh we must see our spouse as being a part of us and therefore worthy of being forgiven and having their needs met.  Quite honestly, I don't believe this can be done without Adonai's Strength (but that is a subject for another post).

So today, I come back to my question.  Is your marriage a contract marriage or a covenant marriage?  How do you live it out daily?  And here is the catch - if, as you answer that question you find yourself looking more to how your spouse treats you and what type of marriage it is based on their actions, or you find yourself justifying your actions based on theirs - then you are living out a contract marriage.  If you are truly living out a covenant marriage with your spouse, you will do so, even if they are living out a contract marriage towards you.

Believe me, I know first hand how impossible this seems, but with God all things are possible.  And if we are obedient to Him and His purposes, He will give us the strength and discernment to accomplish them.  And that is when His blessings in our life and our marraige will begin to flow.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Will I ever sleep again?

Last Friday, SUM broadcast their second installment for the Intentional Marriage.  Dineen led this webcast and did an amazing job.  The message was inspiring and encouraging and she introduced us to Mr. Wonderful!  Check it out.  It is a great message on how to love our husbands just the way they are and how to let go of unrealistic expectations we may have.

One part of the Intentional Marriage is a monthly meme.  We are once again giving advice to our younger selves.  This month Lynn and Dineen asked us to speak about a quirk or habit of our beloved that has been with him since we first got married and give advice to our younger self regarding this quirk.

I've given this some thought over the last few days and decided that the quirk that I probably could have used the most advice about when we were first married is my beloved's snoring.  I know many men snore and I've heard the complaints before and I'm sure there are other men who snore much worse than my husband.  However, to give you an idea, we went camping with another couple in Yellowstone one summer when we were first married.  We had two small one-man tents that each couple squeezed into.  My husband slept diagonally in our tent - head in one corner and feet in the opposite corner.  I lay curled up with his back as my pillow.  I awoke in the middle of the night to the whispers of my friend.

"Brian, Brian!  Wake up.  I think there is a bear out there!"

I calmly whispered back to her, "It's okay.  It's just Shaun's snoring.  We won't have to worry about bears, none will come within miles of us."

I remember early in our marriage asking my father, who worked in a sawmill, if I could take some of his earplugs so I could wear them at night.  That at least helped me get to sleep, although they often fell out during the night and then I had a scavenger hunt in the morning trying to find them. 

At one point I realized that if he slept on his stomach the snoring was not as bad.  I would often wake up and try to get him to roll over.  He is very hard to wake up so this often resulted in him still being asleep but fighting me.  There were many mornings where he would wake up and ask me if he had been snoring the night before.  He could tell because his arm was sore where I had been tugging and pulling (and sometimes hitting, I hate to admit) his arm in my desperate attempt to get him to roll over.  One night I remember actually laying on the bed sideways, bracing me feet against his side and holding onto the side of the bed and pushing as hard as I could.  That worked temporarily as he stopped snoring as he hit the bedroom floor.  But alas, he did not even wake up - only rolled over on the floor and began snoring again!

So...what advice would I give myself?  I'm still honestly not sure.  I would definitely tell myself not to get so frustrated with him though.  I think a part of me often felt like he was doing this on purpose.  Crazy I know, but who can fathom the reason of a young bride's mind.  I do realize I should have probably done more research to find ways to help him instead of just getting angry with him.  As the years have gone by his snoring has actually gotten better for various reasons.  And I think a part of me has just gotten used to it as well.  Now I actually miss it when he is not sleeping with me, it is almost too quiet.

And after having children, I began snoring myself.  He now has begun to get a taste of what I dealt with when we were first married.

But seriously to get back to the point of this meme - regarding this quirk and every quirk of my dear husband - if I could go back and talk to myself on my wedding day I would remind myself to not take myself or life's little annoyances too seriously (Some advice I should probably give to myself right now!).  To cherish the little quirks about my husband that annoy me at times because someday I will miss those same things when he is gone.  And I have plenty of quirks of my own and I can't expect him to be forgiving of mine if I am not able to look past his.  And I would tell myself to invest in some good earplugs that won't fall out.

As I write this  I was reminded of something someone shared awhile back on Facebook (I think it may have been Lynn!) and I think now is a good reminder for it.  Please take some time and watch this video.  Then take some time to appreciate all those little quirks about your beloved that make them who they are, those things that you will one day miss.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Advice to My Younger Self

Dineen and Lynn just started a new endeavor over at SUM called the Intentional Marriage.  I was fortunate to be able to watch their first live broadcast and it was amazing.  I'm so excited for this new project.  I believe God's fingerprints are all over this and it will bring hope and inspiration to many women and help to bring healing to many marriages.

Each month we viewers will have a chance to participate by doing a meme challenge.  This month's challenge was to look back to our wedding day and give our younger selves advice about what we've learned over the past years.  It can be humorous, practical or just a positive bit of wisdom that we wished we had known back then.

I just celebrated 15 years of marriage last month to my high school sweetheart.  As I look back to my younger self (and I was young - only 20!) I know there are so many many things that I have learned, but the last few days I've found it hard to put these things into words.  I wish I could say I've got it all figured out now and that if I had the opportunity to step into a time machine I could tell my younger self everything I need to know to ensure I live happily ever after.  But alas, we live in reality, not a fairy tale.  And even 15 years later I don't have it all figured out yet.   I imagine in 15 more years I may only be slighthly less lost than I am now.

However, as I sit here a few things do come to mind.  Things I've learned that I wish I had discovered earlier in order to avoid some pain and heartache - both mine and my husband's.

First, I probably would have waited a bit longer.  Heather over at Behind the Scenes gave this advice and I could not agree with her more.  I'm not sure that I would not have married my beloved if I had waited a while longer - although I think I still may have.  However, more time to get to know each other better would probably have helped us to avoid many obstacles we've dealt with over the years.  We were both very young and really did not yet know what we wanted for our lives.  We were high school sweethearts and suddenly found ourselves in a long distance relationship when my beloved went to Arizona for school, while I stayed behind in Washington State.  I had alot of insecurities back then that I've just started to work through recently.  Those same insecurities I believe caused me to rush into a marriage that most likely would have benefited from knowing one another a bit better before we started trying to share a small 480 sq ft university housing apartment.  Don't get me wrong, I don't regret marrying my husband and I still love him dearly.  However, I think we both would have avoided alot of misunderstandings and pain if we had taken the time to really get to know one another before we were married. 

Second, I would remind myself that we do not live in a fairy tale.  Love is not just an emotion, it is a choice we make daily.  It is a putting aside of ourselves to understand the needs of the other person.  Marriage is not 50/50 like I thought back then.  We both need to give 100% or more to make it work, even if the other person is not giving or putting forth their fair share.  Marriage is not about holding grudges and it is not about keeping score.  It is about trying to look past our own insecurities and offenses to understand the person with whom we have chosen to share our lives.

I often look back to that first couple years we were married and I'm amazed we survived.  We went from seeing each other every 6 - 9 months to living in a very very small apartment.  We fought over everything, including whose toothbrush went in which hole in the holder.  People would ask how long we'd been married and when we told them they would smile and make a remark about the "honeymoon" stage.  I remember looking at my husband thinking if this was the honeymoon stage, we were in trouble!  I think part of the problem is that we did not communicate much before we were married.  Neither of us had realistic expectations and neither of us knew or understood the other's expectations.  I joke now that when we first married my reaction was "We are married!  Now we will spend every minute together!" while my husband's reaction was "We are married!  Now I can spend more time with my friends without feeling like I'm neglecting her."  Needless to say, that did not get us off to a good start.

I'm learning more and more every day how important honest and open communication is in a marriage.  We can't expect the other person to read our minds or even read between the lines.  And in addition, to communication we need to work on not getting offended.  We need to try to look past our hurt feelings to understand what is driving our spouse.

As part of this month's challenge, Lynn also encouraged us to post pictures from our wedding day.  So here are a few of my favorites.  I had to take pictures of my pictures with my phone so please look past the weird color and fuzziness.

Our 1st Dance as Husband & Wife

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Even a Great Husband Makes a Very Poor God - Lisa TerKeurst

A dear friend of mine shared this article today and I wanted to repost it here because I thought it was very pertinent to the purpose of my blog.  This is a short read, but very thought provoking for someone already married or someone who plans to get married someday (even if they don't have their future spouse picked out yet).  As I read it I teared up and smiled at the truths she shares, especially the parts about what marriage does not mean and what marriage does give us.  Very true words and a great reminder.  Please take a few moments to read this article and share any thoughts or comments.

Lysa TerKeurst - Even a Great Husband Makes a Very Poor God

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Today's Thankful Heart - The Greatest Love

Today I am thankful because I am loved by my Lord.  I am his princess, His greatest love.  I am his favorite.  And guess what?  So are you, and so are each of my beloved family members.  My kids and my husband.  Knowing that you are so loved and that your entire family is so loved by such an awesome and powerful God is amazing.  Think about it.  If you are loved this much by someone who created the world and is willing to die for you, who HAS died for you, what is there to fear?  What is there to worry about?

So how do I know this?  Because the Lord tells us in His Word how much we mean to Him.  The most recent verse I've found regarding this is Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. ~ Zephaniah 3:17

This is such an awesome verse and is packed full of so many gems.  First it tells me God is with me and He will save me.  He has already saved me, and He will continue to do so.  I've know this for a long time, but the next parts are what touch my heart so deep inside.  It says he takes delight in me.  No, not just delight, He takes GREAT delight in me.  It says He will quiet me with his love, I have nothing to worry about when someone this great loves me.  And then it finishes by saying He will rejoice over me with singing.  As women, I think most, if not all of us, would admit that a man writing and singing a love song to us would melt our hearts.  Now imagine the Creator of the World creating and singing a love song just for you.   Even when I mess up royally, He still loves me, still delights in me and still sings a love song of rejoicing over me. 

And I take even more comfort knowing that He loves my children and my husband with the same fiery love that He has for me.  How amazing!  No matter how much I love them and want what is best for them, it is but a shadow of what He feels for them.

I feel like I'm just gushing on this post, but then what else can you do when faced with such an amazing love.  Have you been here before?  Have you been given that revelation yet as to how very much our Creator loves and cherishes you?  If not, ask Him to show you.  He wants to, you know.  He's just waiting for you to ask and open your heart to Him.

No matter where you are in your life, no matter what you have done, He wants to show you His love.  Don't feel like you have to have things figured out and your act cleaned up to know His love.  Knowing His love is what is going to transform you.  He will clean up your messes as He cleans your heart.  He does this through His love for you.  Ask Him to show it to you, open your heart to Him no matter what you may think it looks like, because I have a secret for you.  He already knows what is deep down in that heart of yours, even better than you do and he STILL loves you more than anything in the world.  Allow His love to transform you, to comfort you, to sing over you.