For Better or Worse

“He was a sergeant major in the Russian army, thirty-six years old.  He was stationed in Angola, a long way from home.  His wife had come out to visit him.

On August 24, South African military units entered Angola in an offensive against the Black Nationalist guerillas taking sanctuary there.  At the village of N-Giva, they encountered a group of Russian soldiers.  Four were killed and the rest of the Russians fled—except for Sergeant Major Pestretsov.  He was captured, as we know because the South African military communique’ said: “Sgt. Major Nicolai Petretsov refused to leave the body of his slain wife, who was killed in the assault on the village.”

It was as if the South Africans could not believe it, for the communique’ repeated the information.  “He went to the body of his wife and would not leave it, although she was dead.”

How strange.  Why didn’t he run and save himself ?  What made him go back?   Is it possible that he loved her?   Is it possible that he wanted to hold her in his arms one last time?  Is it possible that he needed to cry and grieve ?

It’s possible.  We don’t know.  Or at least we know for certain.   But we guess.  His actions say it all.

And so he sits alone in a south African prison.  Not a “Russian” or “Communist” or “soldier” or “enemy” or any of those categories.  Just-a-man who cared for just-a-woman for just-a-time more than anything else.

Here’s to you, Nicolai Pestretsov, wherever you may go and be, for giving powerful meaning to the promises that are the same everywhere; for dignifying that covenant that is the same in any language—“for sickness and in health, to love and honor and cherish unto death, so help me God.”  You kept the faith; kept it bright—kept it shining.  Bless You!!”  (excerpt from All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum, pgs. 29-31, 1988).

So today we pray: Lord show us the beauty and value of commitment and covenant.   Give us the love that makes us want to go back.

Cherishing The Companionship, Waiting for Marriage

Cherishing The Companionship

Worth the Wait


Holly and Doug

It was worth the wait!
Doug had given up his job to take care of the 2 elderly uncles that had raised him and his brother. While trying to bring in a bit of income while he was living with them (in SC where he had always lived and planned to stay forever), he got the idea of internet marketing and bought some websites and gradually taught himself how to run them. At 51 Doug had never been married or engaged though he had been in a couple of relationships. He was lonely and not involved socially anywhere, so once he got online he found and joined some online          dating sites.  

By 43 yrs. of age I had pretty much given up on the idea of marriage being part of God’s plan for me, and I was peaceful with that reality. But my beloved Dad surprised me at one point when he said he had been hearing James Dobson talk about a Christian Dating Site and he thought I should try it. My Dad was not into computers or dating at all, so while I was not interested in dating sites, his thought planted a seed that took root a year or so later after taking a computer job for a friend. Out of curiosity more than anything, I signed up for a couple of the Christian dating sites. 

Later I branched out to a couple of other sites such as Dating Sites for Farmers and one for Big, Beautiful People. I did not find any of the sites to be particularly bad or good, as you find all kinds of people on there just like you do in real life. But I was not a game playing kind of woman and I rapidly grew weary of the process of getting to know men and finding they were not serious about Christ. 
Doug was offered a free 3 day trial to a dating site he had never been on and since he didn’t have anything to lose he tried it. It just “happened” to be one of the sites I was on. I had looked at Doug’s profile, but saw nothing at all about God and so went on. I later learned that Doug was not a Christian, and in fact had never been to church except for funerals. He 
believed in science not God.
Before his free trial was over Doug contacted me through the website and while he was not a Christian he was very unique and likable in a lot of ways. I was very impressed with what he was doing to care for his Uncles. I found that kind of self sacrifice to be rare in men and women alike. We were not really attracted to each other, but did have a lot in common, so when he asked if I would be his friend via email, I said ONLY if he were willing to talk about God. He said yes I could talk about Him as much as I wanted although he did not know anything about religion. Of course I could not pass by that kind of open opportunity to witness, even though I would never consider him a romantic prospect as a non-believer.
So we became friends. We emailed each other and talked on the phone for almost a year. During that time I got off ALL the dating sites and went back to being reasonably content with singleness and trusting my Lord. I was sharing about God with Doug that whole time and building a good solid friendship with this kind and funny man. Then one of Doug’s elderly uncles died and he was devastated. Jim was the closest he had ever come to having a Dad. He and his brother were raised a bit wild in the South Carolina mountains without much in the way of parenting. I don’t think he had ever imagined a world without the Uncles. 
At that point he was pretty shaken up and re-thinking everything. He told me he could not have made it through Jim’s death had it not been for my friendship and support and asked what he could do to repay me. I told him he could read the Bible I had sent him a while back. So he began reading the little New Testament I had given him. As he read he got more interested and asked me to discuss it with him. So we read the Bible together every friday from then on, and I also sent him some scientific videos from a Christian perspective. I was very concerned about him during this time as I knew it was very likely a spiritual crossroads for him. Doug was so discouraged during those months that in my prayers I started to feel led to take my Nephew and 2 friends down to camp at a park near where he lived in order to try to reach him for Christ. 
This was our first time of meeting each other and we connected even better in person, though he was very shy at first…..”like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs” were his exact words, LOL. He spent most of that weekend at the campground during the day and showed us around the area and joined us in fireside devotionals. He also came to fellowship with us at the campsite Sunday morning where we had Bible study and sharing. He actually shed tears when we left and after that visit I felt drawn to him as a man for the first time.
A few weeks after that visit, Doug asked me on the phone if I would ever be able to consider anything more than friendship with him. I told him I was drawn to him in some ways, but there could be nothing without God. And of course that had to be something that came about genuinely between him and the Lord and not because of me. Also Doug did not want to move away from SC for any reason and I did not want to leave my aging Mom in Virginia either. So we said nothing more about that subject as it seemed impossible on all fronts. 
Then 6 months later the other uncle (Nick) died and Doug was like a toy boat adrift on the sea. My whole family and church were praying for his soul by this time and again I and some friends went down to SC to the funeral. That week was incredibly memorable as the one when the crack in Doug’s heart opened to the possible reality of knowing God….and both of us began to wonder what the future held.
One month after that an elderly neighbor witnessed to Doug and they knelt in his old house and he accepted Christ as his Lord! Shortly after that he came to Virginia for the first time to visit me and the other friends he had made here. During that visit he learned more of God’s Word and while here he was baptized! His faith grew rapidly after that! My whole family loved him and he and I grew much closer during this visit. We visited back and forth 3 more times and in October of 2008 he asked me to marry him. I said yes…..I had known for many months that he was the one that I could live with for the rest of my life. And more importantly he was the answer to my life-long prayer that God would only send a man that I could serve HIM better with, than without!
We had some challenges working out where we would live (where God wanted us that is). I considered moving to SC as he prayed about VA. Then when the time was right we Both were able to see God leading us to live in Virginia. We were married in an outdoor medieval style Renaissance Wedding on May 2, 2009! We invited all of our wedding guests to dress the part and it was fabulously fun with everyone dressed in beautiful medieval period clothing! We also had music, games and decorations from the 16th Century! The word Renaissance means new beginnings and that is most definitely what marriage was for us! Doug was 54 and I was 46, neither one with children, neither with previous marriages, engagements etc. In fact, by the grace of God I was still a virgin……….it was the supreme adventure and our late life gift from God! 
We fuss and laugh and are learning together. We have a long way to grow, but we both feel, after 7 years of marriage that it is not quite as hard as either one of us had anticipated………amazing but true. We have difficulties of course, after so long of being independent people. Selfishness is ever present. But God knew what He was doing and we are the perfect sinners for each other. He is milder natured than I am thankfully and he is catching up on a life time of not having anyone to share himself with. I am cherishing the companionship and help in all areas of life. We are good for each other even as God is refining us through the journey of marriage! Neither of us has doubted for a second that God put us together. It is and was an amazing, miraculous work of God!!!

What Really Matters

Introducing Joe and Heather.  They have been one of  our closest couple friends through the years. Many times they have  encouraged and supported  us in our relationship which they have also  done for many other  marriages.   A couple behind couples, bringing hope and strength to others.

Several years ago,  they were staying at our house.  Joe and  I were up at 6 a.m., talking and praying.   At 6:30 in the morning (before cell phones), Joe received a call.  The caller asked a strange question.  Can you tell me the 10  most important things in your life?  He started with his wife, two children, people he was close to,  and then a few things.   The caller said you still have all the people, but your house and belongings burnt to the ground early this morning.  With great relief, what was most important to him was still with him, his wife, family, and friends!

I still can’t think about this occurrence without tears welling up.   It was everything, everything! Joe was able to take life from a different perspective because he had what or who that really mattered.

What matters most?  People and the relationships are all that matters, really. People are the real estate!!

Even if we have lost a relationship, we were blessed to have had it.  Would I wish to never have had the people I have lost?  No, they were and still are blessings, treasures, and gifts from God.  Flaws and all; people make love alive and lessons learned in a way a physical thing could never achieve.

What really matters?  Oh the thoughts of regret for the people I have taken for granted.  It pains to recall the loved ones I dishonored with my willful ways.

Today I will count the gifts and blessings I have in my family and friends.  They are my richest treasures and precious heirlooms of eternal value.

Filling Each Others Cup

Am I filling my partners cup?

So often we all forget or neglect the value and importance of filling our partner’s cup.  Our cups are the  mental, emotional, physical, and especially spiritual parts of our beings.   When we minister to our  partners, they experience God’s love and care.  When our cups are filled several things happen.  We experience the love of God in this world. We feel protection from the worries and cares of life.  All of my other troubles seem smaller, less threatening.

It’s not that hard to figure out if your filling your partner’s cup.   Take a few moments and look into your partner’s eyes,  what do you see looking back?   Hurt, pain, loneliness, fear, or security, significance, trust , or hope?    It’s taking time to listen, care and serve, every day just a little bit.   Most cups don’t run dry over night, but over the course of a week, month, or year, a vast desert can grow.  Have your ever seen how a desert comes to life when it rains?   As soon as the water stops, it becomes  barren again.

How do we fill our spouse’s needs or fill them with what is truly meaningful to their individual needs and interests?  We do this through knowing and responding to our partner’s love language.   Gary Smalley  lists  ways to determine a person’s individual needs through love languages on his web site, The Five Love Languages.

First I ask myself, is my partners cup not full?  Second, we minster care in a way that has meaning to the other person.   I try to fill my partners cup by serving her tea every morning, she tells me with a smile this is really meaningful.. (that was easy!)

A Change Of Heart


This is Dan and Chrissy.

imageThey’ve had a change of heart.

 They are in love…  Again!

Love that seemed to be lost under pride and hurt.

Their story  is a change of heart.  When you seem to have come to your end, the only hope you have is to look to up to God and then search within. It does not lay in the hands of others.  God has given you everything you need to find peace.  The solutions should always start with a heart examination.

Dan  and Chrissy are  entrepreneurs .  Dan is a skilled cabinet maker.    Wood is a part of their lives, its everywhere!   When he looked within his heart he wrote what he found on some boards and presented them to Chrissy.  Love was on top.  It was greater that all the  other  ugly stuff he found.  It was greater that everything else.   They wept and asked forgiveness for their hardened hearts.    That was the only that thing that really  changed, it was the only thing that really  needed to change, the rest was details.

Now they are co leading a marriage growth group.

How do you fix a hardened heart?

It can start from many places.  It usually starts from hurt, pain, betrayal, loss, disappointment, emptiness or the loss of life focus. The events can be real.  You have to believe that hardness never is the answer.   Hardness is different than strength or setting boundaries.   The root of all hardness is usually fear.  Perfect love cast out all fear.  So the place to start is with a talk with The Father.  And then seek support.

The Art of the Restart

Most People in Relationships Grow And Mature !

This is Art and Debbie.  They understand restarting, and have helped many others to restart.   It’s believing in the hope while like your in the middle of the impossible.  They are real heroes for many, including me. Also, they’re a couple behind other couples.  (See  Andy and Brittany coming soon).

I read once that we should allow people to have a fresh start every three years.   Meaning that we let go of our stereotypes, experiences, disappointments, and bias’. Fortunately most everybody changes and matures.   Oftentimes after  looking at someone from a new perspective,  I have learned about myself, and what I see as a result is not  always a pretty site.  I’ve  caught my self feeling jealous of others and later realized my thoughts were wrong.  Many  people who I had wrong ideas or notions about  were respected by others, causing me to realize I had them in a box.   They did grow and change. Many far exceeded myself in their abilities.  The same thing happens with our partners.  How come others liked the person I felt so upset with?   I was the person who needed a restart!

When I’m with someone everyday, changes seems to happen in slow motion.  If I allow that person the opportunity to learn and grow, while at the same time, I imagine them in the big picture becoming wiser, stronger, and even more able, then usually, I act and think differently towards them.  I am then  holding trust and faith in them, giving them the freedom to grow.  The result is that they usually feel loved and respected because I believed in them. That is the restart. It is the beginning of forgiveness.

This is what  God does with us.  He looks at us from an eternal perspective. He sees our potential and helps us get there.  His love never fails to bring out our best sides.  The depth and riches of God can be displayed in my life toward my loved ones.   Love is well described in the following verses.  Meditate on their meaning and pray them into committed relationships that will flourish even into old age.  This is what love does.

I Corinthians 13:4-17,  “Love is never tired of waiting; love is kind; love has no envy; love has no high opinion of itself, love has no pride;  Love’s ways are ever fair, it takes no thought for itself; it is not quickly made angry, it takes no account of evil; It takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, but has joy in what is true;  Love has the power of undergoing all things, having faith in all things, hoping all things.”  BBE

Conflict, A Mindset For Solutions

 A Marital Conflict Is Resolved

Before It Starts!

Imagine the end before your start.  If conflicts usually don’t end well then a new mind set is needed and possibly some help.  The goal in conflict  is always to gain depth of love and respect for your partner.  When couples learn to use conflict for growth, then good things can happen.

Ruth Graham, the wife of the evangelist Billy Graham, was asked a question in an attempt to embarrass her and or her husband.   She was asked if she ever disagreed with her husband .  Her response was golden.

She said, ” If two people agree on everything then one of them is unnecessary”. Often people forget that conflict can bring strength to a relationship, but there must be a certain mindset in order to prevent destruction while the conflict brings growth.

Wrap you partner in words of love !

Words loveRemind yourself these things:

  • STEP ONE,  CONTROL DAMAGING WORDS …Hold yer tongue. The tongue has the power of life and death.
  • Proverbs 18:21

Start with the end in mind.  The goal is growing more in love and respect for your partner.  What is more important, the issue we faced or the way I responded to it? In a year will the issue really matter and will my response leave lasting damage.

There are some whose uncontrolled talk is like the wounds of a sword, but the tongue of the wise makes one well again. Proverbs 12:1

  • Some people seem resilient to words, unaffected, they just let them roll off.  But the truth is that everyone has some point of vulnerability.  Don’t assume anything!Train yourself to know when to stop and take a time out.
  • The start of fighting is like the breaking of a dam: so give up before it comes to blows. Proverbs 17:14Resolve to get rid of bitterness, sharp angry feelings, noise, and unkindness.  Ephesians 4:31


Fought It Through, and Won !

Zach and Shelby love each other.  Anybody might  have said,   They love each, but they could love each other  to “pieces”!  Ask Elder Dave and Robyn Hinman (see picture below).   Their love was intense, just like their reactions when it didn’t go well.   Zach and  Shelby have come a long way.   With triggers galore that could be ignited every time, anytime and sometimes all the time.  Some couples have to work harder, especially if they are facing multiple problems.   Some couples have the ability to create both passion or problem.  But given the chance to heal and grow, they can change their lives along with others around them,  and they have! A whole extended family has caught their zeal. What made it work for them?    They practiced listening, slowing down, taking time outs, and the power of faith to change.  They sought and accepted help. They acknowledged and found the love of family, friends and mentors.    They didn’t quit!  They have been beating their addictions and using their tools.  They had a plan of hope that directed them.  They loved each other but needed skills and support.  Good things cause ripples of more good things.   Thanks Zach  and Shelby, you’ve touched our world with hope.  You opened the doors for others through your willingness to grow. Thanks Dave and Robyn for opening your hearts and home. Dave and Robyn

A Rightfully Jealous Love

A Rightfully Jealous Love

There is an appropriate type of jealously in a relationship.  James 4:6 “does not the scripture say he yearns jealously over the Spirit he has make to dwell in us”.  The previous section of scripture discussed in depth the wrongs of human  jealousy.   God’s jealously is modeled in marriage Eph 5:30-32.  “because we are members of his body.For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church;”

Before a couple are officially in “THE” relationship, when one heart wants the love and devotion of the other, there is longing for commitment. And after that relationship has been consummated there is is longing for deep care far beyond sexual love.  It is the desire from each partner to want what ever is best for the relationship from their spouse.  It cannot be in just a history book.  Love is always “now”.  It is healthy jealous for the full care of the other.  Like with God… “He wants what is His”.   My mind, eyes, heart, actions, forethought, listening, nurture and any other aspect of what what real love is.    Yesterdays love has value and significance and will bring trust to work through difficult times and situations.  But  real love is alive today.    It hasn’t forgotten fist love, the yearning and desire to hotly pursue their partner.

Question:   Does my partner feel my love is hotly pursuing them?   Do they sense a care that has some similar qualities of God?  Would thy say… Let me tell you the ways my partner loves and pursues me.


Our Secret Codes

Every relationship has secret codes and messages.  It is a part communication that is vital to every relationship (since most communication is nonverbal).  Secret codes and messages can make a  relationship unique, special,  personal and  exciting.  They are mostly unspoken with looks, touch, sounds, movement,  moments, scents, and memories.  They are sensed even while you are apart.  Relationships are so powerful  because they originate in the spiritual world far beyond our understanding..   The scripture clearly speaks of the mystery in relationship.  Spiritual bonds that are consummated physically.   We are temples of the Holy Spirit ( I Cor 6:15-20)    “and the two shall be come one”!

Eph. 5:29  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church: 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. … 32  This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

We pass these messages for many reasons. They can be positive or negative.  They are opportunities to strengthen a relationship, to learn cues to minister to a need and or  learn about partner or self.

There are moments when that I am sure my partner is sharing message with me even when we are apart.  It could be one of us is praying for the other.  It could be a time of day that triggers a memory.   We have sensed each others heart..

Codes are always being developed over time, but you can speed them up.  You can create more  love signals to enrich your relationship. Your can purpose to grow messages of  love and care that will enrich and provide relief during hard times.   It’s easy!

How?  ” The eye is the lamp of the body”   Mt 6:22 .

Every day this week speak messages of love to your partner through your eyes. Don’t “settle”  into the same old, same old.    Look for new moments of opportunity.    Send messages from your heart.  They grow !

Hangin Out Together

Busy ! Busy ! Busy ?

Just what creates intimacy?  Most of the time the littler things.  Not always the long, in depth, or big things…   I know kids, work, projects  etc… can turn 5:PM into 10 PM real fast.  But what about that walk., that doin something’s causal, it’s comfortable, it’s restful.   it’s “hangin out”.. just being together.   Those moments are there,  we just miss them ! Put it inthe calendar if you need to.  You can invite others,( or be invaded by others, like the kids).

These are my favorite feet.   The’re part of the person I love most.  We were .. .hangin….

Do we think that Jesus did not know how to rest, chillax (as my son Joel Says).   He is the creator of rest!  All of those hours with the discples were purposeful, but there were moments of quiet, listening, looking, walking, sitting, ..enjoying.. breathing!

Lord this week show us our moments that we can enjoy the moment…    show us how to “hang out”.