Tag Archives: marriage



That’s what if felt like God said to me on Tuesday.

My husband came downstairs and told me I didn’t need to water.

I looked up from watering and saw he had a haircut, and my spirit dived. “Fortunately, you don’t get to have input,” I answered as sweetly as I could manage, and left and went to a meeting, fighting discouragement. In our history when he gets a haircut it’s a declaration of independence–I’ve cut it for 30 years. And I thought he’d been warming up. So much for that.

I came back two hours later,  and he turned off his show and came to me and asked why I was so angry. I was surprised–this isn’t normal for him. I assured him I wasn’t angry. He said yes I was–angry about his haircut.

I told him it was discouragement and why.

Then he said, “Ok let’s talk. You can ask any of the questions you want right now.”

I breathed a prayer. I was so caught by surprise I didn’t even know what to ask. But out of my mouth came, “Do you want to be married to me?”

A short delay and then, “Yes. Next?”

“Do you want to learn to be kind in a relationship? And I admit I need to learn it as much as you do.”


“Is there room in this relationship for my needs and wants?”


We talked about what happened for him when he was so angry after my surprise surgery. He said it was traumatic for him and I said I could relate. It was traumatic when I spent a week with him in the hospital two years ago, hearing the doctor say he might not make it, and waiting seven hours.

So he’s back. And I am grateful for restored relationship, that I didn’t force it, and that he led. And out of the blue in time for Christmas!

God is good because I learned to back off and not control him–even though that is my love language–taking care of people. I’m a verbal person but not when it comes to love and affirmation. So we both have to monitor tones and control, and just learn to be kind. And the best evidence of God’s goodness is that I had peace. And I really did. I also did see my part and have a three-month tutorial on backing off and monitoring my responses.

We will be learning as long as we are alive and open to it. And I think that is what it means to be called to suffer. To admit we don’t have all the answers, we also are wrong and need forgiveness. Thank God we can make good, even scary choices.


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One of Those Dumb Fights

We were doing so well! We have been enjoying each other and the time we spend together. And then suddenly in 3 minutes time it all went south. Now we’ve had 24 hours of alienation. How can such stupid fights do that? It was just emotions and timing–really, that’s all.

We had worked well together all day, in and out of each other’s presence. I wasn’t pushing to get things done. There was a lot to do after the intense heat for a week, but I took my time and played a lot as I was working outside. I was not that tired.

I was finished on the outside, and came up the stairs from the lower garden. I had my hands full–in one of them was a large dustpan full of dirt and petals and dead leaves. I caught my toe on a step and down I went on the brick steps, the dirt in the dustpan going all over me and the steps I had just swept–not all of them–thank goodness–only four. I tore the nail on the big toe, skinned my shin and bruised my hip that I landed on. But I got up and swept it up, “Walk it out” playing in my head. Then headed straight to the shower. My husband was in the house talking on the phone–didn’t even know what had happened.

When I told him, he was concerned, and told me to sit down and let him fix the cantaloupe. But I didn’t. I didn’t feel too bad. Had washed off the blood, done hot and cold rotations and used my essential oils.

But then he said, “I told you not to work so hard, you were too tired.”

My response was wrong but honest, “I don’t need to be shamed. I need some compassion.”

He left. And I didn’t know he was angry till I saw him sitting outside and I went out and sat beside him. He didn’t talk to me. So I asked if he was angry and he called me a name and said that I tell him not to overdo it all the time.

He was right and I knew it, and it didn’t even hurt my feelings. I said, “Thanks for telling me.”

We went to bed silently. I slept immediately and woke up an hour later when he turned off the light, went back to sleep, but an hour later was awake for hours. So I woke up late the next morning, after four hours of sleep, tired, sore and slightly disoriented. I didn’t know where he was emotionally so I didn’t go back to bed at 7 like I usually do. (I was enjoying early morning on the patio with Jesus.)

If I had, we may have bounced through it because when I first woke he asked how I felt. But, of course, I didn’t think of that then.

Soon he got up, and I asked if we were going to read together (The best thing we have done for our relationship.) He said he didn’t have time–a joke–it was Saturday morning.

When I tried to fix it later, he was too far into resentment and attached something else he wasn’t happy about.

I knew then that it was going to be a day or two. Blew that! I thought. A beautiful morning, and probably the whole weekend, had just been wrecked. And I went back to bed alone. I didn’t sleep, but I definitely felt better both physically and emotionally afterwards.

I realized that the best thing about my relationship with Jesus is that these things never happen! He is always there. He always loves me, no matter how I mess up, what dumb things I do or say. And if distance comes in all I have to do is run back. I never have to worry about if he’ll be upset or take me back. He is always ready and happy to restore the relationship–no hurt feelings get in the way. And my explanations He already knows and understands.

He just loves me so amazingly! That carries its own conviction to look at my stuff. Love is very convicting, you know?

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Cops and Robbers

We all get templates in childhood that we spend the next two decades refining, and we all end up pretty much in a game of cops and robbers. Opposites attract because you are looking for balance (unconsciously), so there is usually one of each in every relationship.

I’m a cop. I admit it. I think everyone ought to live according to the laws of their beings. My husband, on the other hand, is more of a robber–seeing what he can get away with–it started young in a rousing game of stealing grandpa’s hidden candy, who would then chase him swearing in Arabic. (One way to make diabetics–Grandpa was and Richard is now.) They were close, so getting away with something is accompanied by warm, fun feelings.

Good and evil all twisted up together is one of the things that makes living on this planet so difficult. When I was growing up things were very black and white, good and bad, or so I thought. Then everything  began to gray out.

My cop affinity came from not enough boundaries, which leaves a child insecure, and not feeling truly loved. My father had been the favored of nine kids in his family and had never been wrong, so he was lenient and insecure. My mother was a lenient parent because she’d had a rough, angry, non-involved father, so she was going to be different. But she was the cop for their marriage, and my dad kept thinking he could do whatever he wanted.

It takes years to see and admit which one you are, but once you do, it is easier to modify, with God helping you choose. However, the clearer you see things the more discouraging it can be. You often want to fall in a heap and weep, because the more clearly you see God, the more clearly you realize you aren’t even close to being like Him.

Nevertheless, redemption is possible. I can say that from experience. Thinking where we were this time last year (him wanting a divorce), and where we are today–there is no comparison. We are more in love with each other than ever.

Yes, there was work involved, but it was mostly just being willing to look at yourself and admit how you are. God did the work. We only had to give permission and cooperate.

My book on Exodus will come out next month; and writing that, as well as the last year of my own life, have helped me see what a great advantage it is to be aware of and admit your own weakness! I’m thinking of making the subtitle, The Advantage of Weakness. What do you think?


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On Making a Marriage Good

Today is our 27th anniversary. We have almost twice as many good years as bad ones! So to those of you struggling in your marriage: It can get better–even good. It depends on these two things: you have to be willing to look at yourself honestly and be willing to change. Plus, you have to be willing to see what isn’t yours and not take all the blame, just your part.

Or said another way, you both have to want to make things better– a win-win for both of you. If you are connected to someone who doesn’t want to make things better, or won’t look at him/herself, set a certain amount of time to step back and pray that they will  see the light and themselves. If it doesn’t happen, get out. You can’t change someone else, only God can. And He has to have permission. If God can’t get permission to work, then only stay as long as you clearly hear Him telling you to. If He can’t change your mate, you aren’t going to!

Do not stay in a toxic environment, it will make you toxic unless you live in close relationship to God.

Having said that, when I told God I wanted to leave a few years after we were married, He told me, “Stay put. You’ve got things to learn.” I was obedient. And now I’m glad. I’m glad for the stability it gave my kids, and for what God did in me and in our relationship. I learned to depend on God, and to look to him to get my needs met. A year later my husband decided to leave and God took him in hand and completely changed our relationship. I’ve written that story here before.

Before that it seemed like an impossible situation, causing more stress than I could handle. But I was contributing. I was very defensive, and very good at blaming, and very good at hiding from seeing it. (And I thought I had learned how to step back and let him be him and do his own thing and experience his own consequences before I married him!)

What I didn’t know, even though he regularly told me, was that I didn’t know how to love. I have made some progress, but truly, I feel like I’m just learning to see myself now, over 20 years later! When what you feel inside is different than how you act outside, you often miss it. And it takes the grace of God to see that.

It takes being loved to see that you have had no idea how to love. And nobody can love you like God. He is so gentle and so kind  and so funny it is amazing. He will never shame you, never leave you. He is always there, always listens, always cares, but He is honest. When He confronts, it heals, and even though it hurts like you’ve never experienced, it’s a good hurt that brings change, and doesn’t last long. He’s completely for you, completely trustworthy, completely good. He’s wild about you, and He’s totally worth the risk of whatever you think you might lose. Nothing compares to being loved by Him (and there is three of Them who love you like that for goodness sake!)

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Overwhelmed by Info

I’ve heard a lot of people saying “I need a simpler life,” is that true for you too? We tend to be overwhelmed by information today–even social media.

I’ve heard it said that we’ve never been more connected, but have less real connection than ever. You’ve seen it at restaurants just like I have. A whole family sitting, waiting for their food, all of them on their phones. Or couples, both of them on phones. Could we lose the art of connecting? Just because it’s easier not to?

Your kids need connection with you. You need to take the time to kiss their fluffy heads, and tuck them in at night. Even better to take 15 minutes to read to them before you turn out the light. Hug them. Look into their eyes. Your eyes show them their value. Show them love. Children spell love T I M E. And you have to start when they’re young before they start pushing away.

Even then, you can insist on eating together and actually talking about the day without criticism. Even then they need boundaries, not a lot but some, that are held, no matter how they manipulate you. Limits are how they feel loved too. “No” makes them feel secure. Someone besides me is in charge. I’m safe. 

We need connection. We were made for it. Relationship is our primary function. Our first full day after creation was Sabbath, a day set aside for celebrating our relationship with God. Clearly, it is our purpose. Scripture says it too. We were created to show God’s character of love by experiencing it in relationship with Him. (Ephesians 1:11)

Part of a simple life is connecting. It can be challenging to make the time, or to know what to say. Today, you have to be purposeful about it. You have to say “NO” to some things in order to have it. You have to say “no” to yourself, turn off the phone, the tablet, the laptop, the TV. Go outside, do something active with your spouse and kids. Active fun is bonding. And good for your body.

Simple is good, but it isn’t easy to get there. It’s just worth it.

Jesus said to his good friend, Martha, “Only one thing is necessary. You are worrying about many things, but Mary (her sister) has chosen the best (sitting and talking with Jesus) and I won’t take that away from her.”

One thing. Only one thing is really necessary. And it is relationship. Specifically relationship with God. But that love will spread to the people around you. Don’t know how to start? Ask. He is happy to help.

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Men, Add Some Joy to Your Most Significant Relationship!

The following fits so well with what I’ve been talking about lately, I just had to share it. It’s a guest post from therapist Peter Pearson.

 I was talking with a couple the other day and they told me about an experiment they were trying.

It was so brilliant I wanted to pass it on as another tip.

Here’s what the man had said to his wife:

“I will give you twenty minutes a day. You have my complete attention to direct me any way you wish. I will do chores, parenting responsibilities, discuss a topic of your choice, hold down the fort while you do something that feels refreshing and nurturing for yourself, or even gaze into your eyes if you wish.”

Think about it. A twenty-minute gift to his wife every day.

Her immediate response? “Wow,! I can’t believe it! This is too good to be true. He is such a workaholic. And now he is going to do this – for me?”

After going through this new routine for a couple of days, she thought “I want to give him back something for his generosity.”

Their process of mutually giving and receiving increased.

 On his part it was a leap of faith. Yes, he had the thought, “What the heck am I getting into? What am I setting myself up for? Will this make me her slave… will she lose respect for me?”

 It was an emotional risk. It would take effort.

 But it turned out to have big unexpected rewards.

 Are you willing to donate twenty minutes a day for your marital or relationship makeover? What if you start with this generous offer today?

 You are giving a gift to the most important adult in your life. Is enhancing this key relationship worth twenty minutes?

 The power of twenty minutes is exceptional. You now have it in your hands. There will be unexpected rewards but please don’t try to predict them.

 Just be open to a new experience.

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My Husband–My Hero

Hy husband was my hero yesterday.

He went up on the roof of my office to attach a shade sail (like an awning). The roof was so hot and the shingles so rough that I ran to get his knee pads.

So there he is on the very top of an 8 ft ladder bent over putting on knee pads. I was almost sick to my stomach. All I could do was pray he wouldn’t lose his balance. (And of course all I could think of was the friend of a friend who’s husband fell off their roof and died.)

Then he had to stretch and lift to get his legs with the knee pads over the rain gutters because they kept catching on it.

When he got on his feet he was fine and tied off the sail, but coming down was even worse. He couldn’t get the knee pads over the gutters and reach the ladder. So after three attempts (with me getting sicker) I suggested coming over the front–no gutters. And finally I thought of gardening gloves so he could hang onto hot shingles. Then he thought of the closet on the other end that provided a step down.

I carried the ladder over there, set it up, and he was able to get down. This may not seem like a big deal unless you know that my husband is 72.

Since I was going to write about mental health this is a good example because we were stretched by it.

It seems to me healthy thinking is just clarity–not letting your emotions run away with you, and respecting others beliefs and opinions while stating and holding your own–but not rigidly. And, of course, checking them out.

I hate having him go up on the roof. But I was trying to be respectful and supportive, and I was willing to go but I’m not as good at heights.

Also, it’s hard for us to work together because we think so differently. So to collaborate takes a lot of respecting and listening. We disagreed on the right way to hang it (we almost always see things oppositely) but after we held it up he actually went with my suggestion!

This project was definitely an exercise in mental health. (Not to mention physical, emotional and spiritual!) And we did it! We passed.

I am very proud of him! He’s crazy but courageous!

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Sometimes Perception requires Healing Your Heart

I love to experiment! Especially with food. However my husband doesn’t love it when I do. He’s not adventurous when it comes to eating, but I keep plugging away…

I learned that he has 2 settings: like and don’t like, basically yes and no. Forget asking what he doesn’t like about something–he doesn’t know! I have at least ten settings, texture, taste: too sweet, salty, tangy, bland…I’ll spare you the list, it goes on for awhile.

I made pumpkin pancakes (made up the recipe) and they were wonderful. He liked the pancakes, but I made a major mistake. I experimented with a topping and served it to him before I had perfected it.

So I’m excited like I’ve just discovered the 8th wonder, and he is definitely ho-hum. No, he is opposed. Telling me I can’t cook. And yes, the texture was poor, it was not quite sweet enough, and the flavor needed a little rounding out (he hadn’t been able to find fresh nutmeg at the store).

Now in the past this would have hurt my feelings. Might have been worth three days of hard feelings or silence. But this time, after asking what he didn’t like, and realizing the 2-setting equipment, I just verbalized it and said, “Well I won’t be able to get you to try this for another year–until you’ve forgotten this. And then when you like it, I’ll say na-na-na-na-na,” waving my fingers up by my ears.

We laughed at my childishness, and then I said, “Wow, that was so much better than it would have been a few years ago! I would have had hurt feelings, and thought you were mean. Now, I just understand that you have two settings–like and don’t like.”

He actually liked the description and used it later to explain something.

So I’ve gotten stronger. My heart meridian tested strong a while back. I guess it really is! And guess what else I’ve learned. Yours is too! You may not think it is, due to a false belief you bought into. (I call them lies.)  Maybe you even have a major mind-altering perception–significant others (like parents and spouses) have tremendous influence. But you can get them healed! Your heart is the strongest organ in your body, putting out the strongest energy. Love and healing are within your reach…

Now that is the eighth wonder of the world! That’s exciting!

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Separation is a Good Thing

Today is my daughter’s wedding day (Tuesday) and I’m in California and she’s in North Carolina! I was really having a rough time with  it yesterday, but am better today. God helped me with acceptance, showing me that it is a right-of-passage for her. Yet another step in separating from me.

Separation is a good thing on this planet because we tend to glom onto each other to get our need for connection met. Yet you can really only be close to those you have accomplished emotional separation from–especially parents. If you are still dependent on them, you probably have a lot of either emotional distance or drama exhibited in conflict and tension. The same dynamic gets worked out in the first two years (or so) of every successful marriage–that’s why it gets tough. Merging into someone isn’t love and it isn’t healthy, it’s codependency that creates confusion and tension–not to mention power struggles.

So I will celebrate with them from a distance, and hold them close in heart and thought with picture texts. It has already begin with this one:

Yes, they did just get engaged, if you’ve been following this saga. They may hold the record for shortest engagement. He gave her a very personalized ring a week ago, and asked her to marry him. They had decided that neither of them wanted the stress or expense of a wedding. They wanted a very intimate ceremony with just the two of them and God out under a tree while the leaves were turning. They have beautiful old trees around their historic capitol building which is two short blocks from the courthouse.

It’s going to be a beautiful day (72 degrees) and her friend was free to take pictures for them. Her boys are with their dad on vacation with grandparents, so it seemed the perfect time, with a party coming later.

God brought them together is such a unique way, and it proves that whoever seeks God, gets love poured all over them. Yes, they may get hammered by the dark side too, but “God’s love holds them steady as a post” as the card above my daughter’s kitchen sink says.

I loved seeing their steadiness a month ago when I was there, especially his. I could see the little boys felt it too–they’re so relaxed with him.

God bless them. He has so profoundly already. He is the only one you don’t want to separate from. Well truly, sometimes you even need to do that too when you’ve been given bad information about Him–until you get it straightened out and find the true God of Love. He will bless you too, I promise.


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