11 Ways We’ve Made Our Marriage Special

11 Ways We've Made Our Marriage SpecialIn celebration of our eleventh anniversary I want to share eleven ways we have tried to make our marriage special through the years.

1. Our anniversary date is 9-11 so usually when we see the time is 9:11 am or pm then we will say to each other “Happy Anniversary.” This lets us know that we’re thinking of something only we share.

2. We have given our children a routine bedtime. Once things get settled down 15-20 minutes after we make the kids go to bed then we usually share our one-on-one time together for at least a couple of hours.

3. We eat late night snacks together…it’s our weakness. It’s true, one of our children (it’s a conspiracy) is always peeking or coming up with an excuse after they go to bed to see what we’re going to be eating together. While we chow down we are talking and discussing life in our adult after-kids-go-to-bed-life.

4. We follow our favorite marriage advice from my husband’s grandparents who have been married for over 50 years to “do everything together.” Okay, so maybe not EVERYTHING, but we try to do a lot together, making dinner, going on errands, and etc. My husband is very good at participating in our family even though he is tired and I think that it helps our marriage tremendously.

5. We like to play games together. Yahtzee is our latest addiction, among other games like Battleship, Checkers, Ticket to Ride, other card games and even two-player games on the tablet.

6. We bought a book about romance. One year we went to Barnes & Noble and bought a really big book of romantic ideas. It has helped us tremendously when we have needed a quick idea to get our creative juices going in our everyday love life (being sweet to each other all the time) as much as our intimate love life.

7. One of my favorite things we have done as a couple to keep ourselves dating each other is that we printed off the Passport to Love year of dates from The Dating Divas.¬† In the passport you pick countries you want to “visit.” When you choose a country like Mexico you will eat Mexican food, listen to mariachi music, and come up with a fun or other romantic idea to go with that country’s theme. We each took six of the dates and locations and had the responsibility to come up with the ideas for that country. It made it fun, sometimes we dressed up and had a fun home date and other times we scheduled activities on a night out.

*Note: You may not be able to visit this website if you have a strong internet filter but you could still take the idea and come up with your own passport and share the date destinations around the world for a year.

8. Before we were married we passed a small wooden red heart back and forth between each other. We would leave it on the dashboard of each other’s car, in a love note, or in a surprising place. We still pass that little heart around when we find it. Recently while we’ve packed to move we found it again and it gets keeps getting passed or put in a place for the other person to find. It’s just a fun way to think all the way back to the beginning of our relationship and continue what has become a small and meaningful tradition.

9. Going out on dates has been a treat when we are able to do it. When someone we trust offers to watch the kids and let us have some alone time then you know we are going to take it! Whether it’s for a trip to the grocery store when my in-laws are in town or going out for dinner when a lady or family in our church has volunteered to be a blessing we do it! Sometimes going out just isn’t possible, that’s why we really emphasize the one-on-one time after the kids go to bed.

10. Showing affection in front of our kids. Often my husband says out loud to our children, “Who wants to see Papa give Mama a big kiss?” The general roar of the mini crowd says “I do!” and we proceed to lip-lock in a fairly conservative way. Then, we smile at each other and applause and laughter breaks out before the next “Again, again!” We will usually indulge the kids a few rounds before they want to be close to us and give us hugs too. We hold hands, kiss, and hug regularly in public to give our children the security of knowing their parents really do love each other.

11. Helping each other with our responsibilities whether it is work/ministry related and/or home related. This was partly mentioned earlier but we blend our lives by stepping up at times to meet the needs of the other person in our daily life. I am a planner and organizer and many times my husband has been able to execute special ministry jobs better when I have been able to help him sit down and think through the planning. On the other hand, I don’t know how many times I’ve told my husband, “I don’t know why God calls me the helpmeet when you help me so much.” Putting each other first and seeing the needs of the other person can really magnetize you together if you do it in the right spirit and attitude.

We’re not perfect people and we’re certainly not the best example of marriage out there, but these are the things we have enjoyed doing together to keep our marriage special. I would encourage you if you have been married for any length of time to make a list like this, it really makes you think and it creates an endearing moment of sweetness when you realize all the love that has been passed between you through the years. It’s a blessing to say the least!

You can read about what I’ve learned from 10 years of marriage, the article that I wrote this time last year.

10 Years of Marriage & Learning

10 Years of Marriage and Learning 2

A Special Thanks…

Today I want to extend my sincere love and thanks to my most faithful encourager and my darling husband for ten years of marriage. My husband, who I like to call on the blog, The Ministry Papa, is a special person to have put up with me for so long.

My husband is a wonderful person. I admire him for loving others and always making them feel welcome and valued. I love him for always saying to me when I approach him asking for forgiveness, “I already forgave you,”because he has tenderly already chosen to overlook my wrongs. I love how he tells me that if I die then he will never want to marry again, even though I encourage him it would be okay. He really needs a helpmeet! Trust me, I know.

I love how when I am not self-confident he has uplifting words to say to help me feel secure. He is an assuring friend, an adventure waiting to happen, sometimes a magnet for bodily injury but that’s something that keeps us laughing. He is concerned about our life and future, wants to follow and obey God so that we do not have more years of heartache if we can help it.

He is the fun-loving father that delights to wrestle on the floor with our kids and take them to do things with him. He is careful in the things that he is good at, like painting, preaching, and the joyful way he leads the song service in our church. I love the sparkle in his eyes when he sees me. He is my dear, my darling one!

On a Side Note…Did you know that darling means, “my only, as not to be replaced”? It does, and that is why I call him that.

Time…

10 years is:

  • 3,652 days,

  • 87,648 hours,

  • 5,258,800 minutes,

  • 315,532,800 seconds

We have not been exactly in the same place for each of those days, hours, minutes, or seconds, (thankfully) but we have been considered “one flesh” for that long. It is a sobering thought to think of all those times shared add up to so great an amount of time.

Half of our marriage was spent as some of the most stressful years of my life as we lived our earlier days working, having our boys and finishing Bible College. The last half have been spent serving in our first ministry together and they have allowed us to have a “normal” schedule and be able to communicate so much better than the years beforehand.

You can read more about our earlier years of marriage on a guest post that I wrote here.

Love…

Love is an interesting thing. I cannot express any thoughts or ideas that are new in the world about the subject but I am thankful that I have it and through God our love is richer and deeper. In serving in the calling of God’s will for our lives it has made it at times more complicated but overall more meaningful because I believe that it will have resulted in eternal gain for God’s glory. Heaven will show something of the love we had as we served the Lord together in our church, gave money for worldwide missions together, and most importantly taught our children about salvation side by side.

Learning…

You may notice that I write more often about ministry and motherhood than I do about marriage. In so many ways I feel like I struggle in this area of my life most, so that is why I titled this “10 Years of Marriage and Learning.” We are still learning how to love and serve each other. Lord willing, we will always be learning to love and serve each other.

Someone said in a sermon once that marriage makes you learn how to be more like Christ… and I think it makes it clear when you’re not being Christlike at all.

Marriage has stretched me, humbled me, called me to forgive more times than my fleshly heart wanted to. It has taught me forbearance, patience, to keep my yap shut and wait for God to work in my husband’s heart instead of trying to constantly be the pushing force of change in my husband’s life. It has revealed that although I have a wonderful companion, that God is the One who really knows my thoughts and feelings every day and He is the one that will help me change MY heart more than his to help make this marriage what He wants it to be. Being married to my husband has made me a better person.

I won’t lie, neither of us has been a picture perfect example of a wife or husband every day of these 10 years, but I Iove how that no matter what God has helped us moment by moment get through the turbulent seas and teaches us each time that true love covers a multitude of sins.

I Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

To My Husband…

I love you more today than I did when we got married, it sounds so clich√© but it’s true. I pray that the Lord will help us to be the best parents that our children deserve, special lovers, and obedient servants to Him for the rest of our lives! I love you, my cornier than cornbread, cheesier that Giovani’s cheese bread, mocha-latte’, one in a million babe! I hope you know that. ~Your Girl

Hurting From a Distance

A gush of pain pours out from my heart every moment I think of the hurt.

The remorse I feel for the very situation is something I regret. To feel so depleted from inner energy and speechless from an inability to know how to comfort the pain of the one I love that is hurting.

This pain is not of mine own doing. Another has hurt not just someone that I love, but the whole family. Their hearts are broken more deeply than my own. Their tears have fallen and they now have questions about the future. What will they do now? Where will they go? How will they go on living with the ache in their hearts and stomachs from their great loss? Will they ever love again?

This is the heartache of our dear friends as they have offered a resignation to their church. They loved and served with many sacrifices and difficulties. They never pretended to be perfect people, but their hearts were open to helping, loving, and giving but often they were rejected. The toil at times was unbearable, like the tasks many of us face.

The hurt I hold in my heart feels so useless. It is the same hurt I have felt while carrying a healthy child in my womb and hearing of another woman having a miscarriage. My heart has cried for her and asked many questions of why and borne a burden of guilt for having been able to carry all of our children to term. Our ministry, although we have no guarantees, is blessed at this time. We face struggles, but they seem so minor in direct comparison of our friends’ great loss.

They are not the only to lose, their church loses in a multiplicity of ways…but that is its own separate discussion.

I do not know, more than just mere words and prayer how to comfort those I love from a distance. I want to rescue and help them. See their faces, hug their necks, place a hand upon their shoulders and reassure them of God’s promises. I don’t want to hear their voice of hurt on the phone and wonder how much of a front they are putting on to make me feel better.

These were friends that appeared in our lives as we were struggling in our marriage with two little boys, trying to get my husband through Bible college so we could follow God’s will. We were probably a sad excuse of anything back then. Their friendship brought us a sense of hope and family when we had been so far from our own. We were together for Thanksgiving, Easter, and many other celebrations of family events with a dash of everything else in between.

God gave them a beautiful home, about 5 miles away from our apartment. They would pick up the boys and I on their way to church on Wednesday nights, load up the carseats, we would hop in and buckle up and be off to the mid-week service. It was a good time of fellowship and burden sharing. I fell in love with their girls and her girls loved our boys. She and I were true friends.

Then we were called to our current ministry, they helped us load our moving truck and stay the night in their home before we set out on the new adventure of ministry. It was hard to say good-bye to them. It was not long afterward God impressed them to sell that beautiful home, and as my friend liked to say it, she believed they lived there because God wanted them near us. It boggles my mind in some ways that God would care so much for us both to have provided such a blessing of having nearby friends. Would we have made it through without them?

Some time later our friends finished their time at Bible college themselves, they are a bit older than us, but finished in record time. They went straight to the ministry where they are now… we have been able to see them at church camps, as well as in my husband’s home church during a holiday, while they were also there visiting their family. We were also able to visit them on one occasion and see the work God had given them firsthand.

I hurt here because they hurt there. It’s like watching a child falling in slow motion and being too far away to be able to rescue the child and getting there in time to pick them up off the ground. They are not my children, they are God’s and I know He loves them more than I do and will care for them better than I can. But even knowing that, I feel it is hardest at times to hurt with someone from a distance. My inability to fix or help the hurting person makes me feel like my hands are tied and my love is somehow meaningless.

So, when you are hurting in ministry and you have spilled your heart out to a fellow ministry friend that is across the miles, and you feel lonely…
know they might be grieving and hurting with you from a distance.

They may wish to bind your wounds, set you upon their beast, and take you to the inn like the Good Samaritan did.

They may be praying earnestly for your broken heart and wishing they could bear some of the pain with you.

They may be feeling grossly inadequate since words are their only means of comforting you.

If they had the money they might drive or fly just to see you and hug you and listen to your heart.

They may have to be brave enough to know that just wishing isn’t enough and have the faith to put you in God’s hands where you are already placed, and leave you there because He loves you more than they do.

They may have questions too about the reasons why.

Love those friends that hurt with you. You may have few of them but they must be loyal and kind people to which God has given you to aid you on your journey of following His will.

If you hurt like I do from a distance to those you love, let them know! Declare your love and use God’s Word to encourage them. And if necessary, make a sacrifice, to assure them that you care. It just may be what gives them enough strength to make it to the next day.