Why #LoveYourSpouse Challenge is Good

I understand why people are rolling their eyes at the #LoveYourSpouse trend…  Because the reality is, life is NOT A FAIRY TALE.

And for most people who are against the trend rightly feel that it is a little too polished and perfect to be true. However, this challenge is a reminder of something all couples need a little more of.

Positivity. Bonding. Forgiveness. Solidarity. Encouragement.

#loveyourspouse

Here are three short reasons why the #LoveYourSpouse Challenge is a good thing.

-Keeping a Positive Outlook on Your Marriage is Healthy-

I’ve shared before that Tap and I have made a commitment to not bash each other in public. When we do this we feel safe in our relationship, we don’t fear embarrassment in-front of or away from our spouse. Our spouse knows our deepest and most hidden flaws, and with this rule I feel safe with him knowing all of me.

So no, facebook doesn’t show the reality of our roller coaster relationship, but it shouldn’t have to. Fights are for us in our own space and time, until they’re too big- Then they’re for us and a mutually trusted counselor or wiser couple.

-Telling and Sharing Your Story is Bonding-

In all of my communication & relationship courses in college the theme of “story” was studied. The premise was that “memory sharing” creates and reinforces a bond between two people. Just watch a couple recite their story, over time they can finish each other’s sentences and they can repeat this story with bravado! You also begin to see them lean into each other, and show outward signs of affection.

Why? Because, once you walk down memory lane it tends to resurface some of those initial butterfly feelings.

Furthermore! Every positive memory is like an investment in your relationship. So when those imperfect hard times hit, you have an investment that softens the blow! We need to keep remembering the reasons we love our spouse, as well as create more reasons and memories for future hardships.

-We all Desperately Need Encouragement-

We should never stop encouraging our spouse… or our friends, family, or other marriages and love stories.

Just after 4.5 years of my marriage, I may feel like I’m not the woman my husband married. Fear that I have disappointed him with the pounds I’ve gained, the patience I’ve lost, and the slow change of personality that happens with experience and time. We all doubt ourselves, and need the reminder and reaffirmation that our marriage is still strong in the midst of challenge or change.

Even in a healthy, loving, committed relationship, I’m glad to still hear I love you.. still.

It is important to remind each other that we did, do, and will always love one another, despite the surfacing flaws, bumps in the road, and challenges we face.

And in a world that pushes divorce, selfishness, and the pursuit of happiness over holiness, it’s good to see love conquer.

How about you? Will you be joining the challenge? Why or why not?

 

Best and Most Challenging Parts of Marriage

A couple-friend of ours is engaged and currently doing pre-marital counseling. They were told to interview three couples (in different stages of marriage) with three questions.

And guess who was a lucky winner?! Tap and I!

We had a lot of fun mulling over these questions, and discussing them with our friends so I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. What is the BEST thing about marriage?
  2. What is the most CHALLENGING part of marriage?
  3. What is your #1 best piece of ADVICE?

Photo Courtesy – Kevin Curtis at Unsplash

Tap and I have been married for 4 years on the 10th of December, and we are still learning just as much as the next couple…. But here are the few insights we were able to give.

What is the BEST thing about marriage : Friendship

Tappy and I probably could have said this in unison… we BOTH feel that this is just truly great.

We love that our team-mate, friend, and lover is always there. We don’t ever have to be alone, we have each other for all the hurdles and celebrations of life.

From this day forward, for better or worse, you always have someone there to go through it with you.

What is the most CHALLENGING part of marriage : Fighting Fair, Balance, & More

To be honest this question came with more than one answer… In the four short years we’ve had together we’ve seen different challenges… and I am positive it’s only a glimpse of the challenges yet to come.  But for each year of our life, I thought there was a challenge worth mentioning.

Year 1: Comparison

In year one, we compared our reality of marriage to our imagination of marriage. We had to learn what the difference was between our ideals and what was. But comparison went further for me… it was comparing myself to other women and specifically Tap’s ex’s. I had to learn confidence and grace for myself, and trust in how God made me, and trust what Tap said when he complimented me.

Year 2: Learning to Fight Fair

This is really more of an every-year thing… We still pull the gloves off every now and then and fight dirty, but the earlier you can drop the bad habits the better!

Tap and I have learned that we cannot go to bed angry, otherwise we can’t sleep.  However, this doesn’t work for everyone. It’s usually best to give yourself a “time-out” to clear your head, minimize the emotion, and get back down to business.

Another great thing for us is to remind ourselves we are a team… whatever we are fighting about, it should be us fighting together to tackle the issue. Try not to forget you are a team.

Year 3: Balancing Life

We don’t have kids yet, but we still had to learn to balance our lives: house chores, work, church, friends, alone time, and date time. It only gets harder when more things add to this list!

Because Tap works in ministry, there was an added dynamic to this.  It is wise to prioritize your life in this way: God, Wife, Kids, Work. But if Tap works for God (in ministry) then this list gets a little blurry. We had to define what items on his Job Description were “God things” and which were “Work things.” It was hard to define this line…. God’s work is important, but it is also important not to become a workaholic and to give your family the proper time they need.

What is your #1 Best Piece of Advice : Dating & Communication

It surprises me how many couples are scared to be vulnerable and honest in a culture that seems to be so “out-there.” Conversations can be tough, but if you can be courageous to discuss things and humble enough to listen it will save your marriage a lot of heart-ache.

Tap said Dating is his best advice… “Happy wife, happy life!” But really, dating allows you to stay connected, keep in touch, and grow together. It’s important to always invest in your relationship.

Tap didn’t realize this until he was married, but he opens up best when we go on walks.

In my studies I learned that men connect “Side by Side” while women tend to connect “Face to Face.”  While I can sit over coffee and talk for hours, a man typically prefers to bond through doing something… fixing a car, playing basketball, etc. So try to connect through doing… go on a walk, kayak, work on a project he’s passionate about, etc.  Don’t always expect him to open up by facing him directly (and possibly intimidatingly). haha.

See some great date ideas at TheDatingDivas.com or the book 10GreatDates, got a budget try $10GreatDates!

What questions would you ask? How would you answer these questions? Engage in the discussion!

I should have __________.

How many “I should have”s do you have on your plate?

This weekend I went to visit my great friends in St. Louis, and as I was waiting for them to arrive for lunch at the Boathouse I met a woman named Culeta.

She was sitting on a bench with three adorable dogs- 2 pomapoos and 1 toy poodle by the name of Kennedy.  As we sat and chatted I learned about her, her passions, and I was inspired by a few of her smart and witty comments.

Cue, that’s what her friends call her, said that God planted an idea in her head that just never seemed to go away. She said it started in her mind, went to her heart, and then started to burn in her belly.  Although it took years, she finally gave into God’s calling and she opened a non-profit called Reprieve.

She said something to the likeness of… “I’m getting too old to carry the burden of ‘I should have’s, so I just did.”

God was ready to use her, and as soon as she agreed, he readied her path.

photo courtesy of AJ Montpetit at stocksnap.io

I carry a few “I want to”s in my pack.

I want to make an impact for God’s Kingdom. I want to inspire others with my blog. I want to find a career that’s perfectly suited for my talents, passions, and purpose. I want to travel….

My hope and prayer is that these turn into statements of “I did” rather than a long list of “I should have done.”

I don’t want to drive past the homeless, and later add “I should have fed him” to my burden of should haves.

I don’t want to brush off a question in fear, instead of embracing a vigorous discussion of theology. To sacrifice a soul for comfort, than to embrace a conversation of life, hope, and saving grace.

I don’t want the burden of… “I should have gone back to school,” “I should have fought harder to save our marriage,” “I should have visited him in the hospital,” “I should have….”

I don’t want to retire and see that I lived a life of comfort instead of impact.

I don’t want my list of “Should have”s to be long, but to be as short as possible.

I want to jump in, dive deep, get uncomfortable for the sake of keeping that list short.

 

What moments have you passed up, adding a “I should have” to your list? What wants and needs are you wrestling with that you need to take action on?

 

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10

Do Over Challenge

New Year Resolutions are hard to keep.  Sometimes they are just too big to grasp, and too overwhelming to start.  This year I decided to get some help;  I leaned on Jon Acuff’s “Do Over” challenge, and it was Goldy Locks’ just right for me.

Each day you read ONE page, just one, then answer a few questions… The words encourage and inspire, while the questions help you focus and put yourself in gear.  Then you spend 10 minutes doing what you want to do over.  You do this for 10 days, meaning you’ve only spent 100 minutes.  So if it doesn’t work for you, it didn’t hurt.  If it does, it’ll gain momentum and snowball forward throughout your year.

For my first “Do Over,” I decided to spend 10 minutes a day drawing or painting.  I had always loved making things as a kid.  Craft kits were always on my wish list and paper and pencils were always packed for vacation.  Whether it was drawing, scrapbooking, crafting, I loved to create.  But as I grew, life got more and more busy, and the things I wanted to do were replaced with things I had to do.

So I wanted a Do Over.  This time I was putting a priority on something I love.  I was and still am worried that I lost the nack for it, but I’m “kicking fear to the curb” and doing it anyway.  It’s scary to show my work, it’s vulnerable, and I know it’s not perfect… but I’m not going to stop chasing my dream just to look “cool.”  So here it is… here are some of the things 100 minutes brought me.

dooverart

I enjoyed this challenge so much, I’m going to do it again.  This time I’m inviting you to join me. 10 minutes for 10 days, chase your dream.

 

Cute, Beautiful, OR Sexy?

In Junior High, I was sitting down in our makeshift computer lab working on an assignment. The boy next to me kept inquiring about my best friend at the time, whom he had a crush on.  I don’t remember the specifics, but it was probably a lot of – Does she like anyone right now? Would she like me? Has she mentioned anything? yadayadayada.  Then it turned into less questions and more of a narrative- She’s absolutely beautiful… so on, and so on.  I was used to it, she was pretty popular, and I was easy to talk to.  Eventually, I asked what made her beautiful in his eyes.  He then broke it down for me, there were differences and levels of looks among the young girls in our class.  There was cute, beautiful, or sexy.  I, he said, landed in the “cute” category.  I think he had said all three were equal, but separate; He wasn’t rude about it, but it obviously made an impression on me.

I want to tell you, these three things are not completely isolated from one-another.  We are not just cute.  We do not need to compare ourselves to the sexy ones, or wish we had just a little more to push us over into the beautiful category. In fact, in every human being all three attributes exist.  Although, each attribute needs to be nurtured and manifested.

CUTE : appealing and delightful; charming:keen, clever

I believe Cute is expressed in the quirky personality traits that make each individual unique.  The way one throws their head back when they laugh, how they dance when they clean, when they whistle as they work.  The faces they make, the phrases they always use, their way of relaxing or socializing. Cute is the personality! Cute is how you express yourself, it is simply what makes you you and not them.

Beautiful : possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about; delighting the senses or mind

Beautiful describes the heart.  Do you love often, freely, without judgement or reserve? Do you give even when you cannot get? Do you serve, sacrifice, commit?  Do you work with integrity?  Do you run from evil, refuse to speak ill, and strive for God’s standards in your life?  God has given us guidelines to beauty! The beautiful are those who pursue and bear the Fruit of the Spirit in Galations 5:22-23a:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control

Beauty is your soul and heart. Through Christ’s sacrifice the ugly has been taken away, through the Holy Spirit we have the power and ability to grasp beauty, and with God’s word we can learn about the characteristics of true beauty that we should pursue.

Sexy : excitingly appealing; glamorous; sexually interesting or exciting; radiating sexuality

Everyone is created as a sexual being.  God created sex, and encourages us to pursue sex uninhibitedly within the confines of marriage.  You are sexy where you are, and you are encouraged to celebrate that sexiness in your marriage!  Do not compare yourself to the twisted, degraded, and degenerate form of “sex” in the media.  Sex is to be your intimate secret, holy, unifying, knowing act between you and your spouse.  You are sexy, God designed you to be.

 

I want you to know that YOU are CUTE, BEAUTIFUL, and SEXY!  Believe it, Embrace it, and Live it in confidence.

Have you Stopped to say Thank You?

Where I work, there are two bathrooms; One at each end of the building.  Whenever the facility crew is cleaning them, they put up signs in the open hallways to warn people “Don’t walk all the way down here, the bathroom is closed!” (However, the sign really just says “Slippery When Wet.”  Which, it is not, because it is carpet.) It can be a lengthy walk when you have to pee, and you’d be dancing on your trek to the bathroom on the opposite side of the building.  So it is a very nice gesture!

One day I was booking it to my usual bathroom, I turn the corner and I see that the cleaning lady had just gotten there and was about to put the signs out.  They run on a tight schedule, and are usually quite cross when they are interrupted.  I asked hesitantly if I was too late, and the lady told me she would just start with the Men’s and I was free to go in.  I did my business, washed my hands, and started on my way back to my desk.

I didn’t get very far, maybe just a few steps around the corner, and God nudged me. I felt convicted and moved.  Turning around, I caught her grabbing a garbage bag.  God had me tell her thank you.  I babbled on telling her she must not hear it enough, what she does is important and appreciated, that it takes integrity and hard-work.  Before I knew it, her eyes seemed to glisten with acknowledgement.  I am very thankful that my ears were open to God’s idea, that He chose me to carry out that bit of love for Him.

After sharing this experience with churchfolk, they decided to take on this challenge: say thank you to three people this week.  Say thank you to the garbage men, the mailmen, the bathroom cleaners, the McDonald’s worker, your cashier.  The people who scrape the sidewalks of snow at work, just say thank you.

A Fabulous February Challenge

I just spent most of all of my January pondering the possibilities Valentine’s Day will bring this year.  Should Tap and I stay in? or go out? Are gifts to be bought or is there a more meaningful way to celebrate?  Amidst all my questions a thought stood out: An intentional day with one’s husband sounds like the perfect medicine for any marriage – whether failing, succeeding, or merely maintaining.  However, all of this thinking led me to a bigger idea.

Valentine’s Day, like so many other holidays, should be celebrated throughout the year- and throughout one’s life.  This February I have decided to be intentional everyday, from the first to the twenty-eighth, to show love to my neighbor.  Afterall, when our Lord and Saviour was asked “What is the greatest commandment?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:37-40

Mark 12:34 even states that understanding this principle, means “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”  How wonderful it is to be close to His Kingdom and close to dwell in His presence!!

Therefore, I want to challenge you to do the same!  Take this love month to focus on loving your God.  Study the true meaning of worship, learn how to practice worship in all aspects of your life.  Get to know your first love through reading the Bible.  Then turn your love to all your neighbors.  Write a letter to someone you admire, who has encouraged you, or who you struggle to love.  Ding Dong Ditch a tasty little treat basket, or pour your time into someone else’s heart and soul.

SIMPLY.LOVE.

 

What are some ways that you are showing love this February?

Life as an Encourager

Not too long ago I attended the Hearts At Home Conference in Illinois to assist a former teacher of mine, Juli Slattery.  I admired her wisdom, counsel, and the testimony her own marriage shined at Focus Leadership Institute.  Because she was coming all the way from Colorado to speak at a local conference, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit with her again.  During the conference I was able to hear her main study, and spent the rest of the day with some lovely women managing Slattery’s book booth.

While visiting with the ladies, a Pastor’s wife came up to us and shared a piece of her story.  She ended with an exasperated sigh and said she was discouraged by the other wives around her.  Whenever she gathered with her girlfriends the conversation was dominated by complaints and sarcastic jokes about husbands.  Instead of partaking, this Godly wife always spoke highly of her husband.  Her friends immediately blushed and turned to anger.  “Is it wrong, that I don’t want to talk badly about my husband?” she asked.  She wanted to fit in, but she wanted to uplift her husband instead of tear him down.

How often have you been in this situation?  It’s so easy to understand the stories of the other wives, and want to chime in with a related story of our own.  Sure it is a good thing to connect and sympathize, and to even share life with others, but to what detriment?

After speaking with this lovely lady, I decided to take a vow of my own.  I will try my hardest to “never talk bad about my husband, to anyone, ever.”  But, why?

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life….She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Proverbs 31:10f paints a beautiful and challenging picture of what a Godly wife is supposed to look like.  Be encouraged to read Proverbs, and continue the study of “wifehood” in Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, and 1 Peter 3.

Another good reason to make this promise, is because your husband will love it!

Being married offers the most unique and intimate opportunity to know another person.  Marriage unveils all the bad along with all the good.  Not only does marriage challenge an individual in the deepest sense, but those challenges unveil new faults and uncovers dirty truths that had not been found outside the shallower relationships of their life.  With all of these dark secrets, a spouse has a lot of power.  They need to decide whether they want to use this power for good, or for bad.

Tappy and I have both made this promise together.  After an argument, I have the confidence and trust to know that my weaknesses won’t be flaunted.  I know that he will only use the information of my faults to help me weed them out and become stronger.  Similarly, I plan to build his confidence.  I want my husband to know that I love him, admire him, and am constantly in a state of excitement to see the new places God will grow in him.  These secrets create confidence, respect, and a bigger sense of trust and intimacy than what we were originally granted.

Furthermore, in the lack of complaints, we are given the opportunity of compliments.  I love to know the ways my husband brags about me.  Currently, we both work at Walmart, and I have heard so many coworkers come up to me to tell me the latest way my husband had bragged about me.  “Your husband never calls your ‘my wife’, did you know he always says ‘my BEAUTIFUL wife,’ it’s so sweet!”  or “The other day I kept seeing that all the magazines were backwards, I’d go to fix them, and the next time I turned around they were backwards again!” they eventually found out Tappy was doing it, so they asked him about it, “Your husband said he does that because you’re the only girl he wants to see in a swimsuit!”

Now tell me that isn’t encouraging?!

I hope that you choose to use your power for good, too, and build the confidence in your spouse.