25 posts categorized "Romance"

The Mystery and Wonder of Esther

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Esther, mosaic, Jerusalem-The Church of Hagia Maria Zion-The Dormition Church

For such a time as this...

Hello SUMites! I mentioned last week that I was feeling led to do an series on Esther. Since then I can’t seem to stay away from this book and have poured hours of research into digging into the deeper places of this astonishing story. So consider this an introduction to Esther and what I have in store thus far to share with you. And I encourage you to read the book yourself and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal its truths and promises to you too.

One of the most significant aspects of the story of Esther is that God is not mentioned by name once in the book. He isn’t even referred to. But He is very much implied. However, there are actually clues I believe the author put in place to make indirect references to God’s presence, something I hadn’t noticed before. So fascinating!

In researching the people highlighted in this story, I discovered the Hebrew meaning of their names to often be significant and indicators of their place in this God-driven story. And that even key attributes of God’s character are clearly yet indirectly displayed.

On a larger scale Esther is the story of the birth of a Jewish tradition and celebration (Purim) that has had significant historical impact in that last century alone that is unmistakably God’s work to save the nation of Israel. 

My friends, Esther is a very multifaceted true story that holds romance, power, intrigue and much more. I am excited to explore its depths with you and look forward to hearing your comments too. We are going to have fun with this one, SUMites, and in reading about Esther and the nation of Israel, I’ve no doubt we will discover our own stories and God-driven purposes in the lives of our spouses and our families. And in our nation as well.

So, are you with me on this one? Ready to go an adventure with me? If so, give a shout out in the comments and share anything else that’s on your heart, my friends. I know the Holy Spirit is already at work among us, the SUM Nation, stirring our hearts for “such a time as this.”

And in the mighty and saving name of Jesus, I say, AMEN!

Love you so much, my friends!
Dineen

Copyright: zatletic / 123RF Stock Photo

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From The Archives: Those Pesky Elephants

I was waaaaay back in the archives and stumbled over this treasure written by our beloved Rosheeda Lee. For those of you who don't know Rosheeda, she was a popular and frequent guest writer here at SUM. She always led our community through our January fast with power and amazing intimacy. She passed away in a car accident while on her way to meet up with us at a conference. You can read about Rosheeda Lee Legacy. We love and adore her and I can't wait to see her in the Throne Room. We plan to hug and dance and sign together for at least 10,000 years. 

But today, I want to share her thoughts about the foxes and the elephants. This was written during our fasting.

Have a great weekend my friends... I will be back with a TON of fantastic thoughts, classes and insights on August 1st. Love you so much, Lynn

Okay: Rosheeda Lee

Song of Solomon 2:15 "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom."

Corsac fox Song of Songs is such a great love story. The words, the passion, the utter romance, and suspense of it all. Grace, mercy, and unfailing love. All that is in this one little book. It really IS a great love story.

But it isn't THE greatest love story in my life. Not by far. And I hope that it won't be for you either. Because the greatest love story of my life is the love affair I have with Christ.

I know, I know. This seems pretty irrelevant when we talk about fasting, but just hear me out. There are a couple things we all know about being in love. First thing is that it takes time together to allow love to really blossom, especially when you've been together so long that what used to be exciting is now common place. There has to be intimate time between you to reconnect and to re-kindle that flame. (Sounds cliché, I know, but it's true.) That's what fasting is all about. One-on-one time with our First Love. Time to re-connect, re-engage, and re-discover all the reasons you fell in love in the first place.

The second thing we all know about love is that when there is an elephant in the room, you can't be completely connected until... well.. until the elephant leaves. Oh, it doesn't change your love for each other or the desire to be close. It just makes it pretty difficult. Our love story with God is the same. When there is an elephant in the room, we can't connect with Him as fully as either of us would like, because for the Believer, that elephant is always un-confessed or un-repented sin.

Which brings us the Song of Solomon 2:15. Here we are seeing the Lover ask that the small foxes be caught, because they are destructive. Because they will ruin what is blooming so beautifully. I just want to point out a few things, then I'll leave you to get rid of the elephants in your rooms.

First, the Lover doesn't say 'let us catch'.. he asks that the foxes be caught FOR them. Which means he understands that he is powerless to capture these foxes in his own strength. He recognizes the need of someone more powerful to step in and act on his behalf so that their vineyards aren't ruined. It also shows that the Lover has to acknowledge that the foxes are there in the first place. So it is with the sin in our lives. We have to acknowledge that it's there, and we have to recognize that we can't cleanse our own lives or hearts. That job has to be given to One more powerful than we.

And let's not forget that these foxes are called LITTLE. They aren't huge, overwhelming, obvious intruders. They're small. Easily hidden and easily ignored. Which is why the previous paragraph is so critical. We have to CHOOSE to acknowledge them and to have them captured, so that the work God is doing in our vineyard (our hearts, our relationship with Him and with others, our lives in general) isn't for naught.

Pretty convicting stuff, right?

Elephantroom Love is at its best when it is guarded and diligently cultivated. The blossoms are overwhelmed if we don't weed on a regular basis. Don't let your relationship with the Lord be overwhelmed by hidden sins. Take time today to think about your own love story with God. Now that you've decided to make time for the two of you to be alone together, take time to address the elephant(s) in the room. I can't promise it won't be difficult, but I CAN promise you won't regret it. Not at all.

Off to get rid of my own elephants.

Rosheeda

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10 Valentines Day Ideas to Rock His World

IStock_000015212699XSmallLynn and I (Dineen) put our heads together and created a list of 10 ideas (you know how we love lists of 10!) to WOW your spouse on Sunday. Many of these turned out to really bless our hubbies and we hope they’ll be helpful to you. Have fun!

  1. Buy his favorite magazine or a book he’s been meaning to buy and put little love notes in between the pages.
  2. Order chocolate covered strawberries and have them delivered to his work. Makes him look really good to the other guys drooling over his special love treat.
  3. Surprise him with a complete evening designed to focus on him. If possible, have a friend or relative take the kids, make his favorite dinner and dessert, shower him with attention that takes the evening right into the bedroom.
  4. Write him a love letter. Tell him you’re still crazy about and for him.
  5. Buy his favorite treat and hide in a place for him to “discover” it. Hide multiple items or little gifts and tell him you’re saving the best surprise for later.
  6. Text him love messages throughout the day and tell him you have a surprise to model for him later.
  7. Buy him tickets to his favorite sporting event and tell him you’re going too so that he can watch the game uninterrupted while you run to the concessions to get his favorite drink and snack. The night’s about him!
  8. Take him bowling at midnight and act like teenagers!
  9. Surprise him with a long should rub or massage with no strings attached. He’s the one who gets spoiled this time.
  10. Give him a handmade coupon for a free day to do whatever he wants, guilt free.

Here’s an article packed with great ideas by Bill and Pam Farrell. Prepare to be inspired!

Love-Wise: Romance to the Rescue

Have Small Children?
Let me just add one more idea here. If you have small kids and no family to take them for an evening or not enough funds for a babysitter, consider planning a special evening WITH the kids there. Let them see you make a fuss over your spouse. What a wonderful way for them to see what love looks like in a marriage. Get them involved and help you decorate or set the table and plan a menu. Valentines Day can be a family event to celebrate the love you all share for each other. You can even turn it into a valuable lesson that will keep giving throughout the rest of the year. Have fun!

Praying and believing,
Dineen

Originally posted February, 2011.

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O Valentine’s Day – A post for us Men

 

ID-100276483When Lynn asked if I’d give a perspective on Valentine’s Day I readily said yes. I also wanted to continue our conversation on Lent, it starts Wednesday, and have included a few brief thoughts at the end of this post.

Valentine’s Day. I still remember an old boss of mine who I wouldn’t have thought to be overly romantic when asked what he did for his wife on V-Day, he said he picked up a bunch of grapes on his way home from work and gave them to her. At the time, those of us who listened to the conversation thought it a bit lame but now years later I’ve changed my mind. John knew his wife loved grapes and he intentionally stopped off on his way home to pick them up. Perhaps it was a small gesture but one, it was a surprise, and two, he demonstrated his love for her.

I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. Shouldn’t every day be a day we seek to cherish our lover? Yes, it should. But like Mother’s and Father’s Day it is a day to stop and especially focus on each other.

Is it now overly commercial? Yes, it is. But that shouldn’t be a reason not to acknowledge it. Just like John did something sweet to acknowledge his love for Bev, his wife of thirty-plus years.

My first Valentine’s Day with my wife when we were dating was a really special night, one we both still cherish. We had some dinner and went to see a live production of “Beauty and the Beast”, one of the great Disney love stories. It was my girl’s first live musical and she so loved it she took her mom off to see it a few weeks later.

Cherish

It’s an important word for me. It’s a bit old-fashioned; you don’t hear it used much these days. But I especially like what it means.

“To feel or show great love; to keep and cultivate with great care.”

Jesus cherishes the church (Eph 5:29 ESV) and we know how much he does for what He did.

But when I think of cherishing it means I need to be intentional to show my love for my wife. It often involves a surprise or serving her in some way. Those to two “S” words usually require intentional thought. So a week or so ago knowing the day was approaching I deliberately made a plan. My wife knows some of the plan. We usually do that these days and this year she is interstate for some of the weekend so we needed to work on it together. The key for us is being together, just the two of us. Yes, a date night with a bit of a twist, I guess.

Training

We men are often not good at this stuff. I’m not going to make excuses, just put it down to the Mars and Venus paradigms, and I’ve always believed that some training is often involved. Lynn used a different term for it on her Sunday post: “hint dropping.” But it comes down to sharing little by little how you like to be cherished.

Guys, it’s okay to receive tips or training. I’m always seeking cooking tips from my wife as I know she knows more than I do.

What’s your favorite Valentine’s Day memory?

Lent starts Wednesday

Thank you for sharing so openly last week. It was interesting how prominent fear and worry is for so many of us. Only this morning I had a moment of panic that had hit me by surprise. In that moment I struggled to grab a hold of God. Does anyone else find that? It’s like a barrier goes up, a door is shut or the lights are switched off.

That’s exactly what the enemy wants. But we need to turn the light on. Because it shines in the darkness. So this morning I found two really helpful things:

  • I relaxed my breathing which served to calm me.
  • I kept quoting Scripture

The lights went on. Yes, the dark was lingering but I was then able to stop, sit down and spend some time with God in silence. And I asked Him about the panic.

Silence.

A couple of things struck me this morning that I hope may be some help as we journey through Lent together. Renew (or start) a commitment to sit alone with God in silence during these forty days. Even for a few minutes. I know this can be hard with little kiddies but even if the only place is the bathroom then so be it.

Wait for Him. He’ll show up. It’s more about listening, not talking. He knows your heart. He knows your desire for Him. See what He says. Write down what happens. Perhaps nothing will happen on the first day, or even the tenth day, but keep at it. And know that God is always present.

Psalm 27 is fantastic – look at verse 5. “He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of his tent; He will lift me high upon a rock.”

What’s so amazing is He is the shelter, the tent and the rock. God. He is our hiding place.

Hold close to God. Remember Lent is less about religious self-denial and more about surrendering our hearts. He wants us to have more of Him and these next forty days are a great way to start out on increasing our hunger for Him and being satisfied in Him.

Note: Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles?FreeDigitalPhotos

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O Valentines Day - A Post For Us Ladies

The History of Valentines Day: Valentine's Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14. It is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other; sending Valentine's cards, or offering candy. It is very common to present flowers on Valentine's Day. The holiday is named after two among the numerous Early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

The day is most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of "valentines." Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards. The mid-nineteenth century Valentine's Day trade was a harbinger of further commercialized holidays in the United States to follow. The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. The association estimates that women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.-- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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Valentines Day is around the corner. This day is an opportunity to celebrate romantic love. It can also be a time of deep pain. This day brings with it the word “expectation.”

In the early years of our marriage, I would find myself disappointed because my husband did not meet my expectations of how I wanted Valentines Day to play out. It was difficult for me to receive “just a card” when I wanted a room filled with roses. Okay, I was young. Poor Guy!

I feel silly now that I was hurt because I “only” received a card. There are thousands of women who would give much to receive a card on V-day. As this day approaches let’s think about a couple of things to help us maintain our perspective.

First, it is okay to drop your guy a hint so that he remembers this day for you and for your children. I have found a couple of ways to do this without embarrassing my husband and without causing a confrontation. Always, give him a heads-up several days in advance. I have left a written note on his desk. I have sent him an email. I have forwarded an email from 1800-FLOWERS. I have also reminded him to purchase a valentine for his daughter (Little girls, need valentines from their Daddies).

Another way I always get my husband’s attention is to ask him if he would like me to buy new lingerie for Valentines Day and model it. This has proven highly motivating! *grin*

I know we want our man to want to remember us without our intervention. We want our spouse to be so “in love” with us that they are compelled to rush over to the florist with only his beautiful wife on his mind. It doesn’t play out like this. Some men need help to be prepared for these sentimental moments.

Secondly, have reasonable expectations.

Thirdly, seize the day. Don’t wait for you husband to make the day special. Some of the best Valentine’s Day memories I have are because I made the plans.

This March my husband and I will be married 24 years. He is a man after my own heart.65b02valentineHe always remembers Valentines Day, birthdays, anniversaries and will surprise me with flowers or cards for no reason at all. He honors our love and marriage.

I do the same but it took us a while to get to this place of mutual respect and love.

One more thing. If you do find yourself disappointed this year, remember our Lord is the lover of our soul.

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love;

I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jeremiah 31:3 (New International Version)

Be blessed, Lynn

Originally published February, 2008.

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The Greatest Romance of All Time

22641640_sOn Sunday I sat in church and watched a short video clip done by an energetic young man. I can’t remember much of what he said because partway through he said something that planted a thought in my mind that bloomed into something I’m finding quite amazing. Then today (yesterday as you read this), the Holy Spirit brought me to a Scripture that opened the fuller meaning and picture of this thought. 

I am a bit undone by it. Let’s see what you think, my friends.

As women, we long to be wooed. I remember as a young girl playing with Barbies, I would stage Barbie’s wedding to Ken. It was quite something actually, at least in my mind. As a teenager, romance books replaced Barbie and Ken to feed my imagination of what romance meant. And no, not in a good way.

So, as a young adult, my hubby’s formal proposal (or lack there of) kind of left a gap in my longing for a great romance, to be swept off my feet and carried away. After all, Ken always swept Barbie off her feet. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about is a different kind of marriage proposal. The greatest marriage proposal of all. 

The cross.

This the thought that came on Sunday and has mulled and simmered in my heart and mind since. The cross of Jesus Christ is a marriage proposal. And when you think of the Biblical references to us being the bride of Christ, it fits.

Christ came down (went on bended knee?) and humbled Himself, sacrificed His dignity to woo us. To call to us out of His great love. To ask, “Will you bind your life with Mine forever?”

At our yes, He presents us with a gift to hold and seal the promise of the promise to be fulfilled. The ring—the Holy Spirit.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. — 2 Cor. 1:21-22 (ESV)

We could call our time here on earth our engagement period. We are promised to the One and we seek to know and love Him better as the romance continues in preparation for our coming life together (eternity). Or we could call our baptism (by water and/or the Holy Spirit) the wedding (a public ceremony) and our continued faith walk our “marriage” to the Lover of our soul.

It is a beautiful analogy, my friends. One I am still pondering as it explains to me the longings of a woman’s heart (and I am only speaking to women here as I am woman. I dearly hope we will have at least one male commenter to share his perspective of this great wooing). We long to be wooed, romanced, desired and yes, claimed in the sense of knowing to Whom we belong. And in the pure hands of Jesus, it is a beautiful and right thing. In the hands of the world and the enemy of our soul, it becomes twisted and selfish.

I had no intention of bringing up the movie 50 Shades of Grey, but as this imagery of the cross as a marriage proposal bloomed in my mind, I realized we are not much different really from the women (unbelievers and believers alike) who are flocking to this movie, for I also believe they are indeed seeking to fill this yearning. We are all God’s creatures, designed to have this longing for the eternal bond (marriage) with our Savior Jesus Christ.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. — Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

As the bride of Christ we have found the truest longing of our hearts—a place that can never be filled by a person or romance books or a movie. For these things translated into some sort of reality for an individual will lose their glimmer and promise in the enduring light of day. The truth is always exposed. The initial satisfaction of these false imitators of the love and passion of Christ will fade because our souls are wired with that eternity Abba Father has placed in us. It recognizes the imposter and rejects him. 

And we are left broken and longing yet again. The great awakening we truly long for is in Him, who longs for us out of the purest motivations for our good—our salvation and identity in Him. This is the place of satisfaction and excitement and wonder. A place where we are loved and cherished and valued, called worthy and beautiful and identified.

The romance never dies with Jesus. He is constant in His loving pursuit of us. He does not stop once He has captured our hearts. He continues to delight and love us more and more, as much a we will allow and follow Him. And there is always more. 

That is the seal and the promise we are given. It is stunning to think that God gave us a part of His very Self to give us a guarantee of His promise. I stand in wonder at this new realization of the depth of such sacrificial love.

For me. For you. For every woman out there. And for every man. We are the center of this great wooing by the heart of Jesus, that draws us to Him without overriding our will or demanding control. It is the purest form of love that seeks nothing but to give, to save, to free.

And in the freedom we are free to love and give ourselves to our Bridegroom who has waited for us since the very beginning of time itself. I can’t think of anything in this world that can match this level of romance, my friends. 

I will close with one final thought that continues to simmer and form in my spirit: This wooing is happening to our pre-believers, whether we see it or not. 

SUMite Ann H. left a comment on Lynn’s post about waking from a dream with the words “pray for the resting of grace” and the image of my face. And yesterday I read this sentence in the book, The Elijah Task by John and Paula Sandford:

Only the Holy Spirit gives the grace of belief—otherwise nothing, neither persuasion nor miracles, will bring about true belief.

So as Jesus woos my hubby, I will be praying for the “resting of grace” upon him so that the Holy Spirit will release this grace of belief into him.  

I believe, my friends. I truly believe this will happen. Jesus said that if we have faith and don’t doubt, we can move mountains. 

I am praying and shouting “GRACE” at his mountain of unbelief, and I am ready to see it move. I am asking Jesus to show me how I can be part of this great romance for my husband’s soul.

How about you, SUMites? I’m looking forward to reading your comments and hearing your thoughts. 

Love you dearly!
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Marriage Challenge No. 1

So, I’ve been inspired by a friend of mine Courtney Joseph who has a new book coming out, Women Living Well. I will share more about that later. It’s a really great book. I was privileged to read it before its release and she has a couple of chapters that are Marriage Challenges. 

One of the challenges is a kissing challenge. Okay, for many of us who have been married a number of years there are statistics out there that indicate that 40% of married couples will go an entire week without a kiss. I’m not sure about this but I do think that as we settle into marriage, are raising children, working and become increasingly busy and distracted, we miss the opportunity to connect with our spouse through an intimate kiss. Yikes, I know this is true in my case. 

CoupkSo, this week, I’m throwing down the gauntlet. It is your challenge to kiss your spouse on the lips for five seconds or longer, every…. single ….. day this week. 

I can bet some spouses are going to freak out. Some may be put out but I am hopeful that this small gesture releases a gentle, kind and loving spark in your relationship with your spouse. 

Okay, take the challenge and pop back in here and let me know how it went for you today? 

SUMNation: Practical help and encouragement to THRIVE in your Spiritual Mismatched Marriage. 

Dineen and I love you. Have a fun and playful week. Break out the lip gloss and pucker up. *grin*

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Weekend Worship — A Story of God's Faithfulness

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Mr. and Mrs. Keith Silva
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. — Psalm 17:6

My friends, this is a special day for me and my family. It's my oldest daughter's wedding day. For me it's also a testimony to God's faithfulness.

For years as I prayed over my girls, I have also prayed for the future men in their lives—for their future husbands. I prayed for men of integrity—godly men who knew Jesus and lived it out in their lives. I also prayed that God would prepare my girls and help them to be godly wives and helpers to their future husbands.

Today my daughter, Rachel, will walk down the aisle with this young man, Keith, who started "courting" her six years ago and is more than I prayed for or imagined. God answered my prayers far beyond my expectations. He is so good to this praying mama.

I'm so excited to see these two start their lives together. Already they exhibit the love and respect for each other as God intends it to be. I am so very proud of both of them and will now continue to pray for them to be united in their marriage and to love and respect each other as Christ tells us in Ephesians 6. 

So, rejoice with me, my Sumite family. Besides seeing my daughter and son-in-law speak their love and unite as one in marriage before family and friends, nothing gives me more joy today than sharing it with you.

I treasure and love you all so very, very much. Thank you for sharing this special day with me!
Dineen

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A Day in the Life of a S.U.M.

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Hello, my dear friends! How I missed you this past week. I shared in my last post that my hubby and I were off to a get-away to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and have some R&R. Our destination?

Kauai, Hawaii.

Yes, truly and for real. This was our first time to visit this tropical paradise. We loved every bit of our time there to reconnect, relax and recharge. Okay, so that’s three “R”s instead of just R&R. But we are talking about Hawaii here.

This not so brave girl did things like Stand Up Paddle Surfing (SUP), kayaking, hiking in the rainforest to a waterfall, swimming in aforementioned waterfall, and traipsing around a chocolate farm (I know, such a hardship to taste new-to-me fruits and chocolate, but I managed to plug through...)

We packed a lot in our 5 days there. Even managed to coerce my hubby to take one afternoon to sit in a lounge chair by the beach and read his Kindle. (i.e. let your wife catch her breath.)

IMG_1758
Mike and I standing on lava...

But there’s one day I want to share with you because it so closely captures what we walk on a daily basis in our mismatched marriages and how God can take our difficult moments and turn them into blessings.

On our first day out I made the mistake (can I call it that lightly?) of bringing up God and creation. I think I was just so enamored with Kauai and the sweet gift of a Zebra Dove God sent in my quiet time to coo and spread his tail feathers at me. Right at my feet! Okay, that’s a story for another day.

So here we are in our Jeep rental with the top down and the Hawaiian breezes blowing through our hair and the vibrant colors of tropical flowers tickling our senses—how could I not think of God, right?

I start sharing because I’m thinking this is an opportunity for me to move toward him. To show him I’m willing to keep an open mind about God’s creation and how it all came about. I’m expecting that we’ll have this amiable conversation that will draw us closer, which is the whole point of our trip.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. He politely shut me down, saying he doesn’t want to have an argument.

What just happened? That’s not what I expected. My feelings are now hurt because my effort to meet him part way has been met with a roadblock. I really and truly thought this would turn out so much better. I withdraw and try to explain why I brought it up and he now feels horrible for upsetting me.

Have you been there? Or is a better question, how often have you been there?

Perhaps my efforts were also about defending my faith, which I sometimes still feel I need to do, even though I don’t. Or more likely, was I trying to defend God as Lynn talked about in yesterday’s post?

These are tough moments in our mismatched marriages. They’re places we can get stuck and ruminate in our hurt and feel misunderstood. It’s not easy to move past them, but I was determined to not let this ruin our day or even our trip.

Because here is what happened later that day. My husband and I headed to the northern part of the island in Princeville and found new wedding bands. My husband wanted do what we’d done on our 10th anniversary—we replaced our gold bands for silver and turquoise to commemorate our trip to Arizona.

IMG_1835We now have new bands that are tungsten with a center band made of Koa wood, which stands for boldness, strength and fearlessness. We exchanged rings on the beach the next morning in front of a gorgeous sunrise.

What’s my point? In just a matter of hours, my marriage picture shifted from one extreme to another. The best way I can describe this is to think of these moments as pictures in a scrapbook filled with images and memories. The idea is to move among these pictures that are held in a book that binds it all together. Not one specific picture is the entire book, nor does it likely define the entire album. And those blurry and not so great pictures? I know I don’t include the ones that are out of focus, have a finger hanging in them, or my eyes are shut. I want to leave room for the best pictures. The ones that capture the heart and meaning of the moment.

When we focus on just one picture, one aspect of our marriage like our spouse’s unbelief or difference in belief or whatever that may be for you, we miss the moments of blessings that God so desperately wants to bring to us, to bless us, to bless our spouse, to bless our marriage.

This album—the binding and the pages—is God’s presence and spirit weaving in and around, bringing everything in our lives together in this collection of memories, experiences, spiritual growth, and everything that defines and builds our lives and marriages. He is the one who holds it all together, whether our prebelievers know it or not!

Doesn’t that just blow you away? Our loved one’s choice to not follow or trust God right now doesn’t diminish or preclude God’s power or presence in our lives and marriages. Let that truth sink in deep into your heart, my precious friends. I want so much to pour that hope into you more than anything.

A moment in my hands and control ended in grief, but God brought it full circle and turned it into what I’d hoped for—a moment of connection and meaning. It just didn’t need to be focused on our faith differences. One of the greatest gifts you can give to your prebeliever is to not define your marriage by your faith disparity. And in keeping your focus on God instead, you give Him the gift of trust, which is another way to worship Him. There’s even a gift in there for us—living in peace and even joy because we know who’s really in control and we’re not worrying about our spouse’s state of belief.

God is there. God is BIG! And God is working. Believe it! Trust it. Even when you don’t see it. Rest in the truth of God and His love for us. Nothing is bigger or stronger than that.

Like 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

God’s love always prevails. Always. And it’s always, always, always about His love. Jesus is our greatest testimony to that.

Amen?

Praying & believing, Dineen

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Talking Without Words

IStock_000012579309XSmallPart of a presentation I’m giving on Wednesday has a section about romance and romancing your guy. I love this part because I get to give a group of women some facts and tangible ideas of how to romance their husbands.

Some of this lands on communication and its vital role in any relationship. And it can be a useful tool to flirt with your spouse. But how do we really communicate?

Recent statistics show that only 7% of our communication is done with words and 38% with intonation and sound of voice. Which means over half of our communication is done with our body. Fifty-five percent to be precise and most of that is done with our eyes.

Think about that a minute. Do you look at your husband when you talk to him? Do you focus on him when he’s speaking to you? Can you remember the details of his eyes? (That one I just threw in there for fun).

How about tone? That’s probably one of the most frustrating areas that I have in my communication. My tone can sound almost angry at times when I’m actually not. I’ve had to school my voice and pay attention to how I sound.

Facial expression is a big one too. I can be lost in my thoughts (more than likely the story I’m currently working on) or trying to figure something out, and my family will think I’m upset because I look so serious.

My point is, communication isn’t just about words. It’s about our body language and our focus. Ever talked to someone who didn’t say a word to interrupt but you could clearly tell by their body language that they weren’t listening?

Think about how you communicate to your spouse and to your children. We tend to be more aware of these areas with friends and even strangers but totally “let down our hair” when it comes to our loved ones and forget to pay this simple courtesy to ones we love most.

Not sure how you communicate most? Ask your spouse. See what he or she has to say and pay attention to how your spouse communicates over the next few days. Some of my biggest eyeopeners in this area have been in the messages I didn’t realize I was sending.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Live Near Dublin, CA? Let's talk about romance.

This Friday I will be at Lighthouse Christian Supply in Dublin, CA to speak about putting romance back into our marriages. This is going to be a fun presentation full of great ideas and lots of laughs. It's all part of our "out loving your spouse" challenge so if you're in the area, I hope you'll stop by! Hugs! ~Dineen

RibbonHeart

Putting the Romance Back into Your Marriage
October 7 @ 7:00 p.m. 
7188 Amador Plaza Rd.
Dublin, CA

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"Out-Love" Your Spouse/ Husband

My Friends,

As I write this today (Thursday), it's actually Rosh Hashanah, the marking of the first day of  the New Year on the Jewish Calender. It strikes me as it's interesting that we are embarking on a potentially life-changing journey today. 

It's been a long time since we have worked through a series and also a challenge here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. This October, could be the beginning of a profound and deepening relationship with our Jesus and also, do I dare say, a paradigm shift in our marriage. It's timing as it relates to God's marking of time, a new year, is perfect.

So, what is this adventure you ask?

It's the revealing of a new look on love. A way to view married love from the eyes of the eternal. And yet to bring it to life in our everyday living here on earth. 

It's about change.

If we are breathing. God is all about changing. He is consistently working out our lives to reflect Christ-likeness.

It's about changing....

Me. You. And do I also dare say, our spouse.

I will dare to say it because over the summer God has introduced me to some people who are living it out and proving it possible. I have been living this new adventure as well and can say this; It took my relationship with God to a greater depth of love, happiness and peace. 

This series will run through the entire month of October. Dineen and I have many practical examples and then challenges to propel you on this journey.

Meet with me here on Monday. Plan to spend 15 minutes with me. I have a special guest who I am so excited to introduce to you. We will share the plan, thoughts and some practical ideas to get us launched on this adventure.

It's going to be a hoot.

Excited, thrilled, hopeful, and filled with the joy of Jesus. Hugs, Lynn

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The Proposal

Arch Last week I attended a writer’s conference in St. Louis. On one of the evenings a bunch of us went on a cruise down the Mississippi. We had a spectacular view of the skyline and Arch as dusk fell. And an even more spectacular view as we returned to our hotel.

We trekked up the stairs and approached the Arch. I walked with a friend, chatting about our evening. One simple glance toward the arch caught my complete attention. At first I thought it was just a girl standing there with her boyfriend, who was sitting on a bench.

Then I did a double take.

No, he wasn’t sitting on the bench. He was on one knee in front of her, holding up his hands. It was all I could do not to squeal and ruin their moment! I’m sure this soon-to-be-wed couple (yes, she accepted) haven’t a clue how much their moment blessed those of us who witnessed their moment and then tried to quietly slip away. For me it was one of the highlights of my trip.

The rest of the evening I reflected on that image, which led to memories of my own proposal. Though not near as grand as standing by the Arch, it’s one I will always treasure (in a humorous way).

But what really got me thinking is that beginning—where we all started. In the time between our proposals to the wedding to where we are now, I think we sometimes lose sight of why we fell in love with our spouse.

What made our hearts beat like a staccato drum on steroids? What made it impossible to think of anything else besides him (or her)? What propelled us down the aisle to say, “I do?”

One of our 1Peter3 Living members posed a great question recently. How do keep from taking our spouse for granted?

I didn’t have a definite answer for that until after I saw this couple beginning their life together. I wonder if it rests in our ability to remember where we started. I wonder if it’s in our daily awareness of those aspects of our spouse that we love and appreciate most. I wonder if it starts in the desire of our heart and ends with the prayer to keep our marriage relevant as opposed to habitual.

The second part of her question was, how do we keep our spouse from taking us for granted? Somehow I think the answer to that question is the same as the first one.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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A Day for Love

So, I kissed my boyfriend goodbye today. Then he left to fly out on business for the week. I hope you have enjoyed the "Boyfriend" theme this February.

It's Sunday evening as I write this post. Our Valentine's weekend didn't turn out as planned. Isn't that just like life?

Like marriage?

But, it's through my maturity in Christ that when things don't go as "I" planned, I can stand up, take the hand of Jesus and take one more step toward heaven. Val candle

I want to tell you that my husband was the best boyfriend ever. He had dinner planned for Saturday night. But it was me who wrecked the plans. I have been terribly sick and just couldn't generate the energy to let my boyfriend take me to dinner.

My daughter said to me Saturday afternoon, "Mom, you NEED to go to dinner with your husband. I would give one of my internal organs to be taken to dinner for Valentine's Day by my boyfriend (which she doesn't have)." *giggle*

.... I love teenagers....

Well, my husband instead held my hand as I coughed, sniffed, blew my nose. I went to bed at 8:30. Yep, a real fun date. 

THAT'S what real marriage is all about. 

THAT'S romantic love.

THAT'S commitment.

THAT'S growing old together.

and THAT is one of the greatest gifts God gives to a man and a woman.

Be blessed, Lynn

_____

At the Cafe today:

Last week my teen daughter and I sat down and watched the movie Valentine’s Day. The gist ~ A Romantic Comedy about flowers, engagement rings, dates with champagne and of course….happily ever after. This was an odd sort of story in that, not all of the couples ended up happy.  

When the movie was over, my daughter and I just sat silent on the couch. I turned to her and said, “Sometimes I hate Valentine’s Day.”

She looked at me quizzically.

“For so many women, this holiday, only punctuates the pain that they are unloved, unmarried, unhappy, and forgotten.”

...read more of the story today at The Internet Cafe Devotions, The Marriage Channel.

Forgotten On Valentine's Day.

_____

Dineen and I have to amazing privilege to share our story of God's amazing miracles in our marriage with several Radio stations today. Please hope over to www.winninghimwithoutwords.com to listen in online. 

We love you our friends. We are praying your Valentine's Day surprises you.

May you be overwhelmed with tiny love notes from our Savior. Lynn

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10 Valentines Day Ideas to Rock His World

IStock_000015212699XSmall I hope you all are having as much fun with our husband-to-boyfriend theme as Lynn and I are. We put our heads together and created a list of 10 ideas (you know how we love lists of 10!) to WOW your spouse on Monday. Many of these turned out to really bless our hubbies and we hope they’ll be helpful to you. Have fun!

  1. Buy his favorite magazine or a book he’s been meaning to buy and put little love notes in between the pages.
  2. Order chocolate cover strawberries and have them delivered to his work. Makes them look really good to the other guys drooling over his special love treat.
  3. Surprise him with a complete evening designed to focus on him. If possible, have a friend or relative take the kids, make his favorite dinner and dessert, shower him with attention that takes the evening right into the bedroom.
  4. Write him a love letter. Tell him you’re still crazy about and for him.
  5. Buy his favorite treat and hide in a place for him to “discover” it. Hide multiple items or little gifts and tell him you’re saving the best surprise for later.
  6. Text him love messages throughout the day and tell him you have a surprise to model for him later.
  7. Buy him tickets to his favorite sporting event and tell him you’re going too so that he can watch the game uninterrupted while you run to the concessions to get his favorite drink and snack. The night’s about him!
  8. Take him bowling at midnight and act like teenagers!
  9. Surprise him with a long should rub or massage with no strings attached. He’s the one who gets spoiled this time.
  10. Give him a handmade coupon for a free day to do whatever he wants, guilt free.

Here’s an article packed with great ideas by Bill and Pam Farrell. Prepare to be inspired!

Love-Wise: Romance to the Rescue

Have Small Children?
Let me just add one more idea here. If you have small kids and no family to take them for an evening or not enough funds for a babysitter, consider planning a special evening WITH the kids there. Let them see you make a fuss over your spouse. What a wonderful way for them to see what love looks like in a marriage. Get them involved and help you decorate or set the table and plan a menu. Valentines Day can be a family event to celebrate the love you all share for each other. You can even turn it into a valuable lesson that will keep giving throughout the rest of the year. Have fun!

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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My Married Boyfriend

On Monday I told you about my new boyfriend. How my chance orneriness created a fun exchange between my husband and me. So, let me continue the story.

Hand holding After the impetuous hand-holding in the car, (yes, I can drive with one hand especially if my boyfriend wants to hold the other) I was delightfully surprised when two days later I had another errand to run and my husband says, “Hey, do you want your boyfriend to come with you and hold your hand?”

Say what?

I’m sure I looked like a deer in headlights.

Now remember, this man never goes on non-essential errands.

“Well, yes,” I stammered.

The man jumped up from his desk, sat in the passenger seat and we held hands.

Again.

That is when it hit me…. This man likes to be my boyfriend. He’s finding the sweet endearment a fun thing. So, I really bought into the whole idea. I started calling him my boyfriend on a regular basis.

“Hey, my boyfriend, you are really cute and I like you a lot.”

*giggles*

Last week in Wal-Mart, we stood together in the checkout lane. Another errand (yeah baby). He bends toward me and spontaneously kisses me right there like we were high school kids in love. We are not bashful about sharing a kiss from time-to-time in public but my man is shy. I don’t ever remember him kissing me while we stood in a line of people, in a store.

I look at him with a smile, he says, “A kiss from your boyfriend.”

Wow.

Of course all this recent boyfriend talk at home has my teen daughter in a constant state of embarrassment as her old parents carry on this romance. Which of course, just makes me giggle all the more and add to the boyfriend frenzy.

My husband is loving it and so am I.

Here are a few boyfriend hints for you to try.

  • Look over at him from across the room and say, “You know, I have a really cute boyfriend.” Smile largely. 
  • Sunday is the Super Bowl. I will tell you now, my husband LOVES it when I just sit with him, hold his hand, watch the game together, and enjoy it. 
  • Make some really great tasting “game” food also. 
  • Slowly deliberately unbutton his shirt. One little button at a time. (preferably out of sight of the teenager *grin) 
  • Text him at work: I miss you, my boyfriend.

Okay, on Monday I have more to share about the BEST gift we can give to our spouse this February, the month of love. Stop back then.

What are your plans for the Super Bowl? I always anticipate the commercials. How much is a 30 second spot this year????

And have you asked your husband to be your boyfriend? Looking forward to chatting with you today. Be blessed, Lynn

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Romancing the Man

1236084_love Did you read Lynn’s post yesterday? I don’t know about you but I’ve been giggling with her all the way on this one. Ladies, this is a chance to create some of that romance we love right in our own marriages!

So, along those lines, I will share that I asked my hubby on the phone yesterday if he wanted to be my boyfriend. He said yes! Woohooo! I guess this means we’re going steady. Now my girls are going to groan even more over their parents’ affectionate nature. I can see and hear it now. LOL!

Sometimes it’s so easy to lose site of what we love in a person because of the burdens of life, the conflict inherent in our types of marriages, and past hurts and wrongs.

Trust me, I understand completely. I’ve let things like this come in and nearly sweep away my marriage. Forgiveness is crucial to all our relationships.

But that’s not what I want to talk about today. What I’d like to do is challenge you to find one thing this week to do for your spouse. One thing that will rock his world. Maybe you take over a chore for the week that he normally does. Then let him discover it already done.

How about writing a special note to your husband for each day of the week he’ll be out of town? Then tell him he can only open one each day. One year I did this in a journal and I filled the pages with little message to him. By Christmas I had a special and personal gift for my husband.

Buy his favorite treat and stash it under his pillow (unless it’s ice cream, of course). Stick love notes in between the pages of his car magazine. Write a message on the mirror with your lipstick. Make his favorite meal or even plan a week of his favorite foods.

Ladies, I know we’re pretty much the ones who make the first move on this kind of stuff. Don’t hold that against your guy, just see this as an opportunity to inspire him. You never know what may come of it. Your actions may translate into an inspiration for him to do something extra special for you.

More importantly, this is a chance for us to speak with our actions and show our unbelieving spouse Christ.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Want a Boyfriend????

It’s two weeks until Valentine’s Day. For many who live in unhappy marriages and those of us who live unequally yoked, this day is not all smiles and chocolate. In fact, this day can be painful.

Later in this series leading up to the big V-day, I will share some of those articles and my newest one, which will be at the Internet Café on the 14th. But, let’s not live defeated. God did not create us to live in disappointment nor defeat.

So for the next two weeks we are going to set off on an experiment to move away from the traditional renderings of Valentine’s Day and make this “Greeting Card” holiday one that we will laugh about, enjoy and remember. Join me and…..

Let’s make our husband our boyfriend.

Now before you give me the eye-roll and say, “Oh brother, she’s nuts,” hear me out.

I actually did this recently, made my husband my boyfriend. It was a complete by chance opportunity but it was so much fun and now I have a boyfriend. A fun and cute and attractive boyfriend who likes to hold hands. Who knew???

Here’s what happened.

Most of you know that I have an ornery streak in me. Darn it! But, whatever, my family loves me anyway and we sure laugh A LOT because of it!

Set the stage: My family, we were all getting in the car several weeks ago, I was the driver, my husband was in the passenger seat and in the back, sat my 15 ½ year old daughter and her best friend. Two girls who at this age and I quote, “Want a boyfriend more than air to breathe.” Oh brother. (drama…. drama… drama….)

As we pulled out from the garage on our way to drop the girls somewhere, they were quite surprised that my husband was going with us just to drive around on a drop-off errand. I have to tell you that I understand their surprise; my husband rarely does the driving of children unless I am absolutely unable to do it. But on this particular day, I had forethought to ask my husband to join me for this outing, a short car ride to drop kids, just to spend time together. No office. No computer. Just time driving and talking. Plus I told him I would make it worth his time… (wink.. wink.)

*Side note: Notice I did the driving. Men do not multitask. They either drive or they talk, but never the two shall mix.

My daughter was completely surprised when Dad jumped in the car and as we backed out. She says, “So whasup? Why ‘s Dad goin?”

Now remember these two teens are completely obsessed over having a boyfriend. Not that I think they have a clue what to do with one once they get one. (A story for another day)

Knowing their fascination with boyfriends and you add to that to my ornery and jovial sense of humor. I stopped the car in the driveway, turned around, and spoke to their stunned faces with a broad and mischievous grin plastered on my face, “Dad’s coming with me so he can be my boyfriend and hold my hand.”

Holding_hands Impetuously, I reached over and grabbed my husband’s hand and we locked fingers. I grinned bigger.

You could literally hear the “eye-roll” directed at me from the backseat of the car as I backed into the street. Then the giggles started. My daughter’s friend couldn’t contain herself any longer. She tried to stop but the giggles erupted which of course then, I started to laugh (loudly by the way, I never laugh softly), then my husband and my daughter joined in.

Hilarity and gaffs of laughter, uncontained, flowed from our car as I happily rolled down the street holding my boyfriend’s hand and living life to the full. God is good to me.

So, that day my husband became my boyfriend. Who would a thunk it, but this “boyfriend thing” has grown over the past months and it’s become a new and wonderful romance between my husband and me.

I have more to tell you on Friday. Stop back in then. Today, I want you to be purposeful and invite your husband to be your boyfriend. Start asking God to show you how, when, where, what… all of it. You will discover what I have. A boyfriend in your husband is really kinda cool.

Be blessed, Lynn

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Christmas Gift Ideas

Gift_certificate Okay, I'm wondering if buying Christmas gifts for your husband is a challenge?

It is for me. My man really isn't in need of much. He doesn't want a bunch of stuff.

However, he is a geek. I say that proudly. I think most of you know he works in the high-tech industry. So when some new electronic gadget arrives on the market, he begins his research. And you can bet we will own one at some day in the future. Can you guess what intrigued him this year?

Blu-ray disc player.

Well he never waits to purchase his gadgets and by the time Christmas rolls around he owns one. I think he bought the Blu-ray in August. 

The man works seriously hard so if he wants to buy himself a Blu-ray in August, it's good with me. However, I usually don't have a clue what to give him to unwrap on Christmas morning.

It's usually small stuff.

I think this year I need to get creative. Personalized gift certificates may be the perfect gift. Here are some ideas:

  • Back rub
  • Dinner and movie (of his choice/ but no war movie *grin*) We laugh about war movies.
  • Prepare his favorite dinner
  • Make the run to the dry-cleaner
  • Model lingerie

Okay, these are some things my spouse might like.

Here are some ideas I have run across for men and/or women

  • Tickets to a sporting event/theater
  • Dinner at a nice restaurant
  • Cuddle by the fire
  • A sexy coupon
  • DVD movie at home/ pizza night

I found a site where you can type your own Christmas Gift Certificate. 

I would love some of your ideas. What is a creative gift certificate to give to your spouse?

Be blessed, Lynn

Right after Christmas we are going to begin a series of posts to help you bring the year 2011 before the Lord. We are declaring 2011 the year when god moves mightily in the lives of the readers here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. Stay tuned for the amazing first week of January and also Your Top 10. You are going to want to walk with us on this journey. I'm so excited. Hugs, Lynn

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Romantic God

Nicole1 (2) Today, I have a treat. Nicole Neri wrote a post on her blog that I believe will speak to many of us. I know it touched me. Nicole is sharing it with us here today. I am delighted to welcome one of our wonderful readers  as a guest contributor. I pray you are moved by her words and you see God the way she discovered Him.

Welcome Nicole. And Thank you!

Romance

I’ve always been a HUGE romance lover. I love cheesy chic movies, stories of romance, weddings, unending love… - I think I’ve watched the Notebook one too many times. And oh the dreams as a child I would have. As far as I can remember I dreamt of y wedding day, my prince and our fairy tale life together. My poor husband had no idea the unrealistic ideals I had placed on him. Our story too started off very picture perfect - high school sweethearts, Romeo – Juliet drama in college, yet a perfect proposal and top it off with a lavish wedding. We had a scored high so far on my fairytale planned life. However fast-forward three years, two kids, and a huge mortgage my lala land was gone. I wasn’t prepared to find myself crying in the middle of the night feeling very un-loved. I had a three month old and a two-year old. Louie was working 60+ hour weeks and romance was nowhere to be found. I remember sobbing on the floor. (I’m sure the lack of sleep and hormone level changes weren’t helping:) At one point I woke poor Louie out of his much-needed sleep to just sit there and cry and ask him, “Do you still love me?” He just stared at me in a daze and told me to try to go to sleep.

The next day I remember watching Oprah – she was advertising a book called “How to Remodel your Man”. Surely this will work I thought I will teach him how to be romantic again! After all I had read her book ”A New Earth” the previous year when my Uncle had died and it seemed to help cope with the pain and fear I had experienced.

So the next day I headed to the library in search of my next Oprah book to fix my romantically deficient marriage. They didn’t have the book, but another book popped up on the library catalog that sounded good – “You can have the marriage you’ve always wanted.” Perfect I thought I looked up the call number and found myself in the Christian marriage aisle-whatever works I thought. While there I grabbed a few more books that looked good, “For women only” and “10 commandments of marriage” to name a few. I started reading them and they had a lot of great practical advice. Like maybe for example my husband did love me and that’s why he was working so hard, Duh! Maybe I should put time aside to be with him. Maybe I should tell him what I need instead of expect him to read my mind – and on and on. Our communication started changing and the more I read the more I started understanding how a healthy marriage works. I started visiting that section of the library regularly. Slowly the reality started sinking in that it wasn’t my husband that needed to change but me! But I still had that deep longing for romance hidden and tucked away in my heart.

At that same time, I was playing in a handbell choir. I thought it would be fun to play music again and get out once a week. The only annoying thing was that every few months they we would have to play in church at 8:00! I rarely went to church and never that early. Then one Sunday that we were playing, I read that the message was going to be on – “A New Earth.” I was so excited I loved that book – it was all about Jesus and Buddah and energy and it had helped me so much. I couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say:) As he began the sermon, I perked up ready to listen. But I quickly I felt like a deer in headlights – The pastor started preaching against the book and how so many people were falling for its’ lie! What? Can you say that again? I was in shock. I went home feeling confused and stunned – I had been reading these great Christian books that were working, but I was also was reading these great new age books like the Power of Now and they seemed to be working too. What’s a brain to do? So I decided I needed to figure this out for myself and dug out my old confirmation Bible and started reading it at night, before bed.

As I read the Bible, I followed some reading tracks in the front that were recommended. I read about what Jesus did and what He said and it was all very interesting. I felt like I was actually getting to know the guy. I continued to read my marriage books, and I also had started reading a book I found at the neighbors called “Captivating”. It was a fun easy read and I was enjoying it late one night - until I got to the chapter that changed everything. It was about how Jesus wants to be your lover? Lover um Freaky? Did I read that right I thought? Then I read a part from Hosea quoted from the Bible and I couldn’t believe my eyes – Immediately I went into the other room and got my Bible to make sure it actually was there – I hadn’t read anything like this before. But sure enough there it was…

“Therefore I will wall her in with thorn bushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not find them. Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her…” -Hosea 2:6-7

As I read it aloud, my whole body felt warm and I started sobbing. This historical figure/distant God all of a sudden became an alive, intimate present person sitting with me in the room. As I read the passage over and over in belief, I knew He was saying – all this time you’ve been searching, striving, thinking that this New Age religion or imaginary romance would cure a hole that only I could fill, I am what you dream of - Would you let me be the great love of your life?

My response - ”You had me at hello.”


BIO: 

My name is Nicole Neri and I have been married to my high-school sweetheart for six years. I taught Junior High for two years before I became a stay at home mom. We now have a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, Brandon and Brooke. Four years into my marriage I heard God knocking on my heart and I opened the door. That was when I reluctantly enrolled at Unequally Yoked University.

Although I’ve experienced deep growth I’ve anxiously awaited my graduation date. I’ve envisioned many far off kingdom adventures working side by side with my husband sharing the love of Christ. But recently I’ve embraced God’s whisper- He’s your kingdom adventure and you get to work side by side with me!

I live on a quiet street in a low-excitement suburb of Chicago - yet daily I get to partner with the Spirit and shine the light of Christ - it's anything but dull! ~Nicole

Thank you Nicole. I am also praying for your graduation. Hugging you, Lynn

*****

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Hallmark Holiday

I originally posted this last year but I find it needs a re-read by me and I hope you will enjoy it again this year. I pray it helps and encourages many of you who struggle with Valentine's Day. Love and hugs, Lynn

HandhearTomorrow is such a strange day. Valentine’s Day!

This day could make me one of the happiest women alive or shatter my life. In the early years of my marriage, I had expectations of surprise trips to some warm destination. I dreamed of three dozen roses arriving at the bank which would make all my coworkers green with envy. I wanted him to sweep me off my feet because after all I deserved it. I mean really….. After all, he was lucky enough to snag me.

Ahem….

Don’t pretend you haven't had thoughts along these lines as a young bride. Perhaps you still might.

Well, I am writing to you today for a couple of reasons. I wish when I was young and starry eyed about love, a wise woman would have come along side me to help me get a grip on reality. I may not be the wisest woman but I care so very much about your tender heart.

My first five Valentine’s Days I was lucky in that my husband remembered to buy me a card. Many of you tomorrow won’t receive anything from your spouse. However, I wanted bouquets of flowers. I was so disappointed I cried…. Alone in the closet. Okay, Jesus cried along with me.

So, as tomorrow looms, it helps to share a heads-up. Our husband’s might disappoint us. Remember, our expectations of our men can be very selfish and our men often feel that no matter what they do, they can never make us happy. (Yikes, is anyone feeling convicted here?)

I can hear some of you saying right now…. But, why shouldn’t I expect some token of love on this day we celebrate romantic love? Well, honestly, I believe you should. However, it doesn’t always happen.

Let me share how our Valentine’s Day changed over the years. After five years of a card when “I wanted more,” I took matters into my own hands.

I began to plan Valentine’s Day and didn’t wait for my man to make dinner reservations. I made reservations or planned a candle light dinner at home. If I wanted a bouquet of flowers, I bought them. I bought lingerie then wrapped it up to give to him with a promise to model it.

I’m not sure when it started to happen but flowers began to arrive at the house around Valentine’s Day in the strangest way. I remember opening up the front door one year to a smiling FedEx driver. The driver looked at me wearing a great big smile and holding a large thin box. She said, “Mrs. Donovan, this is one of my favorite deliveries to make.” The box was filled with live fresh flowers. They were pink and beautiful and …… guess what…

I cried.

But not in the closet.

God can change any man but I bet He is gonna change you first. Don’t wait this V-day. Plan something now and make tomorrow a great day.

PS. Last week I knew my husband was planning to send me flowers for Valentine’s Day in spite of the fact that we are unemployed and can’t afford it. I looked at him one afternoon last week and said, “Honey, please don’t send me flowers. Really, I mean it. I appreciate knowing that you are willing even if we don’t have the money. I don’t need them this year.”

Go figure. Never thought I would say that in a million years…. But, I did.

Have a wonderful day and don’t forget that Jesus is really the only one who can fill the hole in our hearts. Happy Valentine’s Day and may the Lord send you several tiny love notes this weekend.

Be Blessed, Lynn

*****

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Marriage Monday Springtime Marriage

This Marriage Monday we are returning to Christine at Fruit In Season. Christine founded Marriage Monday years ago. I adore her and am thrilled she will be hosting for the next four months. Her topic, Seasons In Marriage, is wonderful. I often write about the season in which I find my marriage, but I feel the Lord calling me to write about springtime marriage. After all, its spring and many June weddings are around the corner.

The Noticer and a really great question.

I WON!

Yes, I won a book, The Noticer, by Andy Andrews.

It arrived in the mail Friday. (Thank you Ashlie of Mommycosm) I can’t put it down. Currently I am reading a chapter where the Noticer is speaking to high school age kids about why so many marriages end in divorce. I find the dialog and the principal truthful.

The beginning of a marriage actually starts early, dating. The Noticer likens clues for compatibility to a leaf. Yep, a leaf. Every person drops clues – a leaf about themselves. You can lean a lot about a tree from its leaf. i.e. age, height, fruit bearing….

The Noticer goes on to explain to the kids that after the physical attraction wanes you must have something to share, commonality. Ask this question. How does he/she fit in with my friends and then family? This assumes you have chosen wise friends and there is a genuine trust between you. How does your fiance relate? Do they enjoy being part of the group?

If your fiance is consistently trying to separate you from your friends, that leaf needs much discernment and prayer.

I found The Noticer makes many wise observations. A happy Springtime Marriage begins when you are companionable.

Be Blessed, Lynn

Tomorrow, Dineen and I are responding to our Open Forum Questions. The question tomorrow: Would you also give some thoughts or advice to someone who is/has been in a deep relationship with someone who is not really a believer, though not yet married to this person.

I believe this question is excellent, heartfelt and honest.

I receive emails such as this from time-to-time. I have permission to share with you one of my recent replies. This question is absolutely relevant to springtime marriage and dating. Have a fantastic Monday. See you tomorrow.

229216: The Noticer: Sometimes, All a Person Needs Is a Little Perspective The Noticer: Sometimes, All a Person Needs Is a Little Perspective
By Andy Andrews

*****

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Hallmark Holiday

Tomorrow is such a strange day. Valentine’s Day!

This day could make me one of the happiest women alive or shatter my life. In the early years of my marriage, I had expectations of surprise trips to some warm destination. I dreamed of three dozen roses arriving at the bank which would make all my coworkers green with envy. I wanted him to sweep me off my feet because after all I deserved it. I mean really….. After all, he was lucky enough to snag me.

Ahem….

Don’t pretend you haven't had thoughts along these lines as a young bride. Perhaps you still might.

Well, I am writing to you today for a couple of reasons. I wish when I was young and starry eyed about love, a wise woman would have come along side me to help me get a grip on reality. I may not be the wisest woman but I care so very much about your tender heart.

My first five Valentine’s Days I was lucky in that my husband remembered to buy me a card. Many of you tomorrow won’t receive anything from your spouse. However, I wanted bouquets of flowers. I was so disappointed I cried…. Alone in the closet. Okay, Jesus cried along with me.

So, as tomorrow looms, it helps to share a heads-up. Our husband’s might disappoint us. Remember, our expectations of our men can be very selfish and our men often feel that no matter what they do, they can never make us happy. (Yikes, is anyone feeling convicted here?)

I can hear some of you saying right now…. But, why shouldn’t I expect some token of love on this day we celebrate romantic love? Well, honestly, I believe you should. However, it doesn’t always happen.

Let me share how our Valentine’s Day changed over the years. After five years of a card when “I wanted more,” I took matters into my own hands.

I began to plan Valentine’s Day and didn’t wait for my man to make dinner reservations. I made reservations or planned a candle light dinner at home. If I wanted a bouquet of flowers, I bought them. I bought lingerie then wrapped it up to give to him with a promise to model it.

I’m not sure when it started to happen but flowers began to arrive at the house around Valentine’s Day in the strangest way. I remember opening up the front door one year to a smiling FedEx driver. The driver looked at me wearing a great big smile and holding a large thin box. She said, “Mrs. Donovan, this is one of my favorite deliveries to make.” The box was filled with live fresh flowers. They were pink and beautiful and …… guess what…

I cried.

But not in the closet.

God can change any man but I bet He is gonna change you first. Don’t wait this V-day. Plan something now and make tomorrow a great day.

PS. Last week I knew my husband was planning to send me flowers for Valentine’s Day in spite of the fact that we are unemployed and can’t afford it. I looked at him one afternoon last week and said, “Honey, please don’t send me flowers. Really, I mean it. I appreciate knowing that you are willing even if we don’t have the money. I don’t need them this year.”

Go figure. Never thought I would say that in a million years…. But, I did.

Have a wonderful day and don’t forget that Jesus is really the only one who can fill the hole in our hearts. Happy Valentine’s Day and may the Lord send you several tiny love notes this weekend.

Be Blessed, Lynn

*****

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My Hubby My Hero

935633_heroI think I fell in love with my husband all over again Monday evening. Our family is facing a crisis at the moment, which called us all to join together and participate in something he normally would refuse. My sweet guy not only came, but he didn't fuss, argue, or resist either.

As I sat across the room from him, I fell in love with him in a whole new way. For the first time in twenty-one years, he was my hero. He came to the rescue of his family. At one point I looked at him and said, "I don't think I've ever loved you more than I do at this moment."

He smiled. I love his smile. What a guy. I can only praise God for this amazing turn about. I could never have accomplished this. I prayed before hand, God worked it out.

Awesome! So, I'm cherishing this new feeling of seeing my guy in a whole new light. And most importantly, praising God for showing me what it's like to partner with my hubby to solve this issue. I can't tell you how different it felt to pray, "God, please show us what to do here." I realized that was the first time I'd prayed for us as a team to work together.

God clearly honored that prayer, despite my husband's unbelief. I've learned a valuable lesson in this, and a wall has come down. I won't limit God again.

Praying and beleiving,
Dineen

*Photo by Ben Smith

*****

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Think of me Monday

For many of us who have been married for more than a few years, we sometimes find our marriage falling into a rut. Our routines become habits. Habits are a good thing. However, in the world of romance, spontaneity gives spark to our our passion.

I have heard from spouses who complain that their marriage relationship has settled into predictability. I hear from women who say, “He goes to work and forgets all about me.” I hear from men that are desperate for their wives to surprise them with a little flair.

Spiritually Unequal Marriage is all about practical help and encouragement to thrive in marriage. So, today if you are tired of your husband leaving for work without a second thought of you the entire day, I have something for you.

If you are a guy (and I know you are out there) and you want your wife to think about you often today, I have something for you.

I am declaring today officially: Think of me all day long Monday
aka email Monday, text Monday, message Monday…..

May I suggest the following:

Women: If you want your man to think about you all day today, I want you to do the following:

Please keep in mind that your husband is in a work place and you must be sensitive to communication with him in the office. I want you to email or text or leave a voice mail on their private phone. Somehow, leave a message early in the day and say this:

Honey, guess what color my panties are? --Then hang up.

GASP, okay, I know this is a bit personal. But, if you truly want your man to think about you ALL DAY LONG, this will do it.

Men: If you want your woman to think about you. It’s a little different. She needs a surprise card. Either you buy a card or write a note and leave it in a drawer she will open during the day or you mail it in the snail mail. (Result to follow in a couple of days). Or, send her one of the best e-cards you can find. Better, buy her an inexpensive flower to hand to her when you arrive home.

Okay, put me to the test. By the way, be ready to follow up. Carefully choose the day you want your spouse to think about you because…… he will…. He won’t be able to stop thinking about you, if you get my drift.

Same for the guys!

Do any of you know where you can find really cool e-cards for free?

PS. If all your undies are white, go right now, and buy something with color.

Have a fun and crazy day. Be Blessed, Lynn

*****

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