We love buying farm fresh produce, but let’s be real, Roger and I are both busy, and another thing… we don’t live on a farm. So, we decided to grow a few things in our own garden, well, actually it is a planter on the back patio, but for us, we felt like urban farmers.
Every day we went out to check on our little garden. As the leaves grew and little buds formed we enjoyed the daily routine of caring for our thriving plants and looked forward to the day when we could enjoy the fruit of our labor, literally.
It was a wonderful day in the Lipp Household when we plucked our first tomato off the vine.
How funny that we can get so intent on growing a vegetable, and yet how easy it is to get distracted from growing something much more valuable, our marriage.
It is so easy to focus on the mountain of little things that feel urgent on a day to day basis, but make it a priority to balance them out with what is truly important.
Busy happens, we need to recapture some of the fun things that drew us to our spouse. Whether it is a date-night, a simple gesture of kindness, or spending time with other couples, shake up the routine.
Just like our tomato took time and patience, we need to nurture a healthy relationship with our spouse. We didn’t flood our little “garden” once and walk away, hoping it would fend for itself. We made it a daily routine to make sure it was thriving.
There are seasons in life, but whether you have been married for a few years or a few decades, we can all benefit from savoring simple moments with the one we vowed to love, honor, and cherish.
How about you? Maybe you could use some fun and fresh ideas to nurture your relationship?
Join me as I visit with Focus on the Family on how to add some pep into your marriage.
Valentine’s Day wreaks havoc on a girl with unrealistic expectations. I know. I’ve been there.
My husband, Mike, set the bar very high during our whirlwind courtship, fairytale wedding, and over-the-top honeymoon. He pursued me like a glass of cold water in the middle of a desert. He spoiled me with gifts and sent huge bouquets to my work (too big to fit on my desk!) He was a man on a mission. I felt loved and valued.
So, when we got married, I expected him to continue to pursue me with the same fervor he showed while dating.
Before you laugh, I felt justified in that expectation since he promised to pursue me in his wedding vows.
We were both naive to think we could pour into our marriage the same level of energy we had before the wedding. I brought an adorable daughter into our marriage (my second), and we added two more children to the mix in the first three years. Mike went from single to married father of three almost overnight.
Add to that a job change and a move and you can see how his focus necessarily changed. Any reasonable person might have given her husband a bit of slack in the area of creating romance. I can’t always claim that title.
I held on to my expectations, creating a bar too high for Mike to clear.
And little by little, the romance faded.
I wanted (expected) him to initiate dates with me and go all-out for birthdays and holidays. One of my top “love languages” is gifts. My expectations made it hard for him to feel confident in buying gifts. He thought it wouldn’t be enough (and, in all honesty, he might’ve been right). I expected thoughtful gifts that reflected his love for me and that showed he really knows my heart. (No pressure, right?)
Mike’s love language is acts of service. He’ll do anything for me: chores, filling the gas tank, he’ll even go grocery shopping. If it can be checked off a list, he’s happy to do it.
That’s all wonderful, but what I really wanted was to know that he still loved me as much as he did when we dated, when he expressed his love in ways that flooded my heart with joy. All his acts of service just weren’t doing that for me.
My expectation kept me from enjoying him in the present
Every time Valentine’s Day rolled around (or any other special occasion), my expectations soared and were dashed.
I knew Mike had it in him to shower me with romance and create a memorable day, but he didn’t. My disappointment festered.
Then, after a lot of pain and struggle, I laid down my “right” to be pursued and dated, and began to accept the husband God gave me.
Now, anything he does – a gift, a date, holding my hand on a walk, or simply cuddling on the couch to watch the latest installment of Victoria — I express my gratitude to him. More than that, I feel gratitude toward him. It’s a great place to be.
And you know what happened? He started exceeding my expectations!
If you have unrealistic expectations this Valentine’s Day, here’s what you can do:
1.Let your husband off the hook. He’s already proven his love to you. Let him know he doesn’t have to vault over the high bar of your expectations anymore. 2. Shower him with gratitude. If your husband gives you a Valentine’s Day gift or card, let him know you appreciate it. If he doesn’t, pick something else to express gratitude for. Focus on what he brings to the marriage. 3. Accept your reality. Celebrate Valentine’s Day in a way that works for you, your unique marriage and your season in life.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to look like a Hallmark movie – or even a Hallmark commercial – to be special. Celebrate the man God gave you, not the fantasy of who you think he should be. Celebrate your love free of unrealistic expectations and I promise you’ll have more fun!
Elizabeth M. Thompson is an inspirational writer and speaker who helps women lead Scripture-based, Spirit-graced lives. She lives in Gold River, CA, with her family and enjoys kayaking and walking along the American River with her two adventurous dogs. Connect with her at www.elizabethmthompson.com
“Never stop dating your spouse.” It’s one of the top pieces of advice newlyweds get. But years later, with kids and bills piling up, it’s much easier said than done. How to date your husband isn’t as impossible as it feels!
Often, after paying the orthodontist, the mortgage, and the grocery bill, there’s not a lot left over for fancy dinners and movie tickets. Not to mention childcare.
These days, my husband and I aim to have at least one monthly night out, but with four kids it hasn’t always been easy to make those date nights happen. Early in our marriage, we had to really get creative.
We knew we wanted to be consistent with our dates, but we weren’t always able to afford a night out. So we decided to have fun nights IN.
How to date your husband
Here are some inexpensive ideas for dating your spouse without having to leave the house:
1. Make dinner together. Tuck the kids into bed and then get out your fancy dishes and make something delicious. In our family, my husband is often my sous chef. He’ll do the chopping, slicing or shredding, and I put ingredients together.
Adding some romantic tunes and a little dancing while things simmer can make your evening feel like a party. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to get creative and have some real “grown-up” food. Try a new recipe or an old favorite. No matter what you choose, the idea is to spend time together and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Bon appetit!
2. Plan a game night. Games don’t have to be just for kids. Board games, card games or even a Wii bowling tournament can set the stage for a fun night of playful competition. Our favorites are Scrabble and Bananagrams. Add a few of your favorite snacks (that you don’t have to share with the kids). If you’re extra competitive, think of a little incentive. Maybe the winner gets a foot rub or the loser has to do the dishes.
3. Form a private book club. If you’re bookworms like my husband and I, it’s fun to select a book you both want to read. It can be a book on marriage or just an interesting novel. Then, set aside some time to discuss. It’s a fun way to connect, share thoughts and ideas, and maybe even learn some new things about each other. Set the mood by adding candles (or a fire in the fireplace if you have one), and your favorite beverage.
4. Spice up movie night. Maybe you already do movie nights together. That’s a pretty easy way to have a date, but consider making it a little bit more . . . sexy. How about dressing up in that little black dress he loves? Or maybe dressing down (as in fewer clothes) and leaving room for a little makeout session. Re-watching an old favorite might be a good idea in case you miss some of the movie action (while making of some of your own).
One Small Win: Creating intentional “date nights” doesn’t have to put a big dent in your bank account, but it will have a lasting positive effect on your marriage.
Zohary Ross is a life coach, speaker and author of the Aligned Parenting Workbook. Zohary is passionate about encouraging and equipping women to have clearly defined “most importants” and live out their values and priorities. Connect with Zohary at http://zoharyross.com/.
One of our favorite getaway spots is a little bed-and-breakfast in the mountains. When you ask my husband why he likes it so much, you very well might hear about the cheese and cracker plate with fruit that is always waiting for us when we arrive. My thought has always been, Great, we just spent the equivalent of a month’s worth of groceries on a cheese and cracker plate.
Why we love a good bed-and-breakfast
What is it about the bed-and-breakfast experience that makes us want to fork over upwards of $200 a night to sleep on somebody else’s sheets and eat clotted eggs in the morning?
The room is cleaned every day. Now I know some of you actually do this but it doesn’t matter. It’s so much better and it just feels cleaner when somebody else does it for you.
The bed is made. Now I know I’m spoiled, because my husband makes the bed every day. But, how great is it when you’re gone even for just half an hour, you come back and the bed is done up. The pillows are fluffed and there’s a little mint sitting there waiting to be indulged in. There is no better feeling on the planet.
Back home and back to reality
Sadly, most of us can’t afford to camp out in the local bed-and-breakfast on a regular basis. So it’s probably time to bring some of that bed-and-breakfast experience home.
Here are a few simple tips from designer and author Kathryn Bechen to help you get that restful and relaxed feeling in your own bedroom:
Maid brigade. Next are the dust rag and vacuum. Turn on some music and make it fun!
Sensuous sheets. Purchase some colorful new sheets in a pattern you love with a thread count of at least 300.
Divine duvet. Invest in a pretty new duvet cover or bedspread. It will freshen up the room instantly.
Pillow pizzazz. Some new pillows and pillowcases that coordinate with your sheets and duvet will add softness to your bed.
Flower finesse. Buy some fresh flowers and put them in a favorite vase.
Candle cozy. A few flickering candles will add instant romance to your new B&B bedroom.
Music magic. Now for some light jazz or classical music to set the tone for the evening.
TV tune-out. Unless you and your mate purposely choose to watch a funny or romantic movie together, turn the TV off.
Tray of delights. Bring in a drink and cheese tray with some fresh fruit, dim the lights, and you’re on your way to a lovely and romantic stay in your very own Bed & Breakfast Inn bedroom. Enjoy!
Chocolate Dipped Fruit
1 pkg. milk chocolate morsels (11½ ounces/2 cups)
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
Strawberries, grapes, bananas, apples, kiwi, or pineapple
Melt milk chocolate morsels and shortening over hot (not boiling) water; stir until smooth. Remove from heat, but keep over hot water. (If chocolate thickens, return to heat; stir until smooth.) Dip pieces of fruit into chocolate; gently shake off excess. Place on foil-lined cookie sheets. Chill 10-15 minutes until chocolate is set. Peel off foil. Fruit may be kept at room temperature up to 1 hour. If chocolate becomes sticky, return to refrigerator. Makes 1 cup melted chocolate. In microwave, melt on high 1 minute; stir. Repeat.
A few other creative tips:
My husband loves a special kind of root beer that we used to not be able to keep stocked in the house (teenagers!). I would hide it under the veggies in the crisper – no chance of the kids looking there.
If your husband gets home before you do, plan ahead by hiding a treat in the fridge for him. Call during the day to let him know it’s waiting for him.
Giveaways Week 3!
If you haven’t yet, go to my Facebook page to like and follow my Kathi Lipp page, and then answer the question of the day for your chance to win a “My Husband is a Hottie” t-shirt. Check out the page each day for a new question and get in on the conversation about loving your husband!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being on Kathi’s ministry team, it’s that a clutter free life is the way to go! To be honest, I’ve learned a lot more than just one thing, but that’s got to be the most important concept I’ve learned. When your life is free of clutter, you can become a world changer.
In 2015, I kicked a lot of clutter out of my house and my life and as a result became much freer. I applied Kathi’s principles and increased my business and even got up the courage to become an Indie author, self-publishing five of my Christian romances.
There are many things that are important to me, including the Lord, my family, friends, my church and my clients. I support Stop Hunger Now through my church because I can’t stand to think of people going hungry, and Compassion International because I love to see children being educated and their families being released from the cycle of poverty. That’s a carryover from my homeschooling days.
As a writer and entrepreneur, I work hard and when I’m able to take a vacation, I believe the only way to relax is in clutter free style. Our vacation in 2015 came two weeks after our son’s wedding, the wedding which jumpstarted our empty nest. I was ready to sit back, relax, read some books, work on my upcoming novel…and eat some ice cream. And that’s what I did!
We visited Cedar Key, Florida, the setting of my fifth book, Secrets Among the Cedars. Cedar Key is on the Gulf coast of Florida, down below the Suwannee River. It’s not your typical beach resort. It’s a nature coast with scrubby pines and marshes, lots of dolphins, and the most gorgeous sunsets you will ever see. Only about 700 people live there and everyone you meet is super friendly. It’s a great place to declutter your mind and your schedule.
In Secrets Among the Cedars, my heroine, Kathryn, is in Cedar Key to search for a murder weapon, but she doesn’t forget to eat plenty of the ice cream found in one of the local waterfront shops. Salted caramel turned out to be her favorite and it turned out to be mine too.
With warm weather approaching, I’m going to have to take a break from my 95% no sugar diet and indulge in some more of that great ice cream. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it back to Cedar Key this year or not, so I went searching for some homemade recipes. I pinned a few yummy looking ones to my Pinterest board and I found a super simple one at the Girl in the Kitchen blog. I hope you’ll join me in making some!
I’m giving away one print copy of Secrets Among the Cedars! Please leave a comment below telling me where your favorite place is to vacation and what your favorite treat is to eat when you’re there. Must have at least ten people to constitute the giveaway. Continental U.S. residents only. Winner will be chosen Friday, April 8th.
Here’s the back cover blurb:
Some secrets are better left buried…or are they?
Kathryn Bellamy is the Assistant D.A. for Perkins County, Georgia. After detectives fail to retrieve a missing murder weapon, she travels to Cedar Key, Florida to find it herself. She finds more than she ever bargained for when she meets Phil Tagliaferro, a former defense attorney.
Phil is drawn to help Kathryn when he learns she’s receiving threats—until he finds out their pasts are connected and his association with her could mean death for them both. Kathryn won’t leave Cedar Key until she has unearthed the secrets…and the murder weapon, but she can’t do that without Phil.
Secrets Among the Cedarsbrings two people from opposite sides of a case together with one goal in mind: Justice. What else will they find in the process?
Secrets Among the Cedars is available on Amazon in print and ebook!
Sherri Wilson Johnson writes Inspirational Historical Romance and Contemporary Romantic Suspense, and she’s a speaker and virtual assistant to authors and speakers. She lives in Georgia with her husband and her Chihuahua, Posey, and they are empty-nesters. Sherri loves spending time with family, vacationing at the beach, curling up with a good book and working on her current work-in-progress.