Twelve years ago, Tim and I were two giddy, young kids who were ready to say, "I DO!" and start a life together.
We had a memorable Hawaiian BBQ rehearsal dinner the night prior with our wedding party and close friends and family. The favors were stamped (I still have some flower seeds if anyone wants to try a package), the bows tied, dresses made, and hair appointments set as the team at East Side hair, where I started my hair career, were ready to beautify all those in the wedding. Our ceremony couldn't have been more musical as my great uncle walked me down with his trumpet, Tim singing to me at the end of the isle and having Becky on piano, Doug's talented exchange student on violin and Dad himself on the saxophone as they played the Lord's Prayer. Harry Connick Jr. danced us out of the church and on our way to the reception we left. The rain held off until our guests were heading to the reception as the sun was setting. Everything about our wedding was perfect!
Our honeymoon was beyond romantic as we stayed our first two nights in Paris and then rented a car and took to the road exploring quaint villages, wine cellars, and stunning castles. We left France with amazing memories and motivation to start life as one. I even talked us out of a ticket coming back from Italy through the 7 mile tunnel under Mt. Blanc as I blurted out, "WE"RE ON OUR HONEYMOON!" The cop seemed to understand that amount of English!
Three weeks later we gutted our kitchen and remodeled…AND SURVIVED! Our little life in the "yellow house" was entertaining as the fair grounds provided many loud nights, lots of traffic and interesting events. We brought Addison home to our first home and to this day I miss the adorable nursery Tim made for her there. Our lemon kitchen was by far the LARGEST kitchen I've had with 48 drawers and cupboards total. Every kitchen since has shrunk in size dramatically!
After, job changes, salon purchases, and having our first child, we sold and moved to the "blue house" where we rented for two years. It was smaller in size, but it worked and we enjoyed it there. I would say the two things we miss most about our second home would be the metal roof in rain storms and having a garage where I could park and shut the door behind me. After being presented an amazing opportunity from our friends, we moved when I was a few months pregnant with Charlie.
Our marriage has been stretched, twisted and strengthened here at the "red house." God knew we needed our oasis at the Dead End street to make "us" work. The house has it's issues, but God has blessed our family with protection, friendships, security, and roots. We've been honored to expand our family here with welcoming Myriam into our home and those that have graced us with their presence through our revolving door. The remodel will never stop as Tim and I are both visionaries. There will always be projects, guests, tests and also rewards. The "red house" symbolizes sacrifice, hard work, stability, and hope as we live out God's blessings here in our home.
Over the years, Tim and I have matured, grown in our faith and have had goals change due to the convictions within. Our marriage today is nothing like it was twelve years ago and I'm so incredibly thankful for the remodeled marriage. My heart skips a beat when I see My Love and hear his truck pull into the driveway. Life with My Love is full of surprises, sharp turns, perfection in projects, spontaneous trips and stability as he leads our family forward.
We together will continue to grow and learn about "us" but will do it walking with love, compassion, humility and grace. I love who we are, what we've become and I'm ready for the next twelve years and more with My Love.
Sealed with a kiss…we're in this together.
Happy Anniversary Love!
If you're looking for something a little extra this summer, then check out the 10-week Bible intense study hosted by SOS! Details are below...
Boundaries: we all need them
“I once heard that the Greek term for “weaker partner” can also be translated “fine china,” which I think is a better translation within the context of marriage. How do you handle fine china? With respect, as you tenderly appreciate and display its finest points. You don’t slam fine china around or put it through the blast of a dishwasher.”
Fred & Brenda Stoeker
Every Heart Restored
Boundaries are not meant to be boring, make you feel boxed in or caged, or even meant to isolate you from those around your life. Boundaries are meant to protect, guide and give others a gage of what, where and who you are willing to enjoy life with as we go through our routines. If we don’t have any boundaries, we allow ourselves to be tossed around and to become hurt in the process.
Communicating our boundaries with our loved ones is vital to our relationship success. Telling those closest to you “that’s not okay” or “I’m not going there as it will cause me to stumble,” is key to later conversations and consequences. In marriages, having healthy boundaries is like taking a daily vitamin to keep your body strong and in balance. Just like we handle fine china, we need to handle our relationships with care. Some of us may need more boundaries than others; THAT’S OKAY!
If you come from a background where pornography plagues your mind, you’re not going to take yourself to a movie, dinner or event that would challenge your eyes and mind. Many couples find alcohol as a boundary they’re not willing to budge on in their home or out with friends. Some have boundaries with their kids that may differ from other parents and most of us have those in place due to our childhood. As believers, we have a set of boundaries laid out for us in the Bible that can help us determine which is healthy and which is not as we overcome challenges, fears, and betrayal in our lives. Everyone’s WILL look different but are necessary to succeed.
Do you find it hard to place boundaries in your life and stick to them? Did you have clear boundaries prior to the betrayal in your marriage?
Has it been hard to deal with someone who may appear like “fine china”?
Matthew 4:6-7, Isaiah 58:11, John 12:2, Matthew 5:37, Luke 16:13
Perspective: Stubbed Toes
“Because we often do not think like Him, and because we do not have His perfect perspective, we often do not exactly know what God is doing. Only in hindsight do we understand what is occurring in our personal life, to the church, or in the world in the outworking of prophecy. So we must trust Him, and in the meantime weigh what is happening and its possible outcome.”
John W. Ritenbaugh
The other morning as I was opening the blinds and turning the lights on, I clumsily stumbled into the LARGE table that has been sitting in the same place for years. It is beyond frustrating to stub your toe and more so, when something so small can create such pain! I had instant shooting pain and within an hour a black and purple pinkie toe. As I was icing my “serious” injury, I had an epiphany: Sometimes the pain we encounter due to stubbing our toes is like trying to dodge the sin we attempt to avoid in our daily lives. There are obvious places, triggers, and things in our society and everyday lives that we KNOW will cause pain, but we still run into them and stumble because as humans we are weak and far from perfect.
I love what Beth Moore says, “Measure the size of the obstacle against the size of God.” How quickly are we to forget the size of God when placed in a difficult situation? We see the obstacles in front of us, feel the pain from the punches, and experience the emotional grief due to the sinful nature we all fight. In the moment, we focus on the initial pain that has been caused and aren’t capable to see past the hurt to the bigger picture of the situation. It’s not until we take a step back, we see how we might have been able to avoid the pain or see how God was and has been, by our side through every side kick, jab, or punch that came our way.
Whether it be fighting cancer, dealing with naughty children, friendships, avoiding addictions, stubbing toes or trying to pick up the puzzles of your marriage, let God change your perspective so you can see all the glory in the story.
Has God change your perspective on issues within your marriage?
Have you been able to grow your character when you “stubbed” your toes?
Are you able to see the glory in the story today?
I can’t forgive myself and those who have hurt me: 1 John 1:9, Romans 8:1
I can’t keep going. I’m tired: Psalm 91:15, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Matthew 11:28
I feel so alone: Hebrews 13:5, Genesis 2:18
This is too hard to deal with: Philippians 4:13, 1 Peter 5:7, John 16:33
I’m afraid: 2 Timothy 1:7, Psalm 23:4
Dating: creating the new “us”
What are some other encouraging, interactive date night ideas?
How has God met you in this study?
Do you feel like you’ve gained perspective to your journey?
What ways can the church better assist you, come along side you and encourage you as you press on?
"To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness. Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs."
Restoration: building blocks
Building a new marriage means you create the sacred in the marriage. You must learn to cherish your spouse and be transparent with each other.
In Biblical times, people built a hedge of thorns around their gardens and even their houses as a method of protection. Likewise, we need to build a hedge of protection around our marriages. Job 1:10 says, “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.”
We must agree to not take any chances with our marriage when trying to protect and restore what was broken. Part of the hedge is found in education through proper support and counsel and the other I believe is cementing your faith in the one who can restore even the ugliest of sins.
Nothing lasting happens over night and with time, God will reward you for the decision to choose restoration. He will grant you the patience needed as you make mistakes and work together to change. God will not be quick to judge and wants us to follow His example when we confess to one another and seek transparency in our relationships. You might not see progress when comparing to the day before but over time, you will see with God’s help, a beautifully restored and renewed marriage.
How has God given you patience to mend and restore what was broken?
Do you feel you have the tools necessary to remodel your relationship? If not, have you found the courage to speak up and ask for help?
What are some ways that you have restored your marriage and God has healed your heart?
Psalm 23:3, Psalm 51:12, Ecc. 4:12, Jeremiah 30:17, Joel 2:25-26, Revelations 21:1-5, Isaiah 55:1
It happen when Jesus took our sins upon the wooden cross. Forever redeemed. Forever saved from this ugly fallen world we live in. Three nails and our lives are completely changed.
God has a funny way of using our deepest flesh wounds to show His glory to others but more importantly, to show us where our character lacked strength. How has God reconstructed your character and given you redemption through the pain?
What is the meaning of redemption? What does the Bible say about it?
Psalm 111:9, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 1:14, Psalm 19:14
“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Hebrews 9:14
“Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:14
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8
"Redeemed women of God have tender merciful hearts, backbones of steel, and hands that are prepared for the fight." - Stasi Eldredge
Joy: choosing to see
When life is in line with God’s Word, we should be experiencing joy everyday; in many ways. God challenges us to find joy in our trials because He knows that it will build character and make us stronger.
Over the years, I have seen the devil rip marriages apart and cause dissension in the church from the temptations of the world and consequences that follow. I’ve witnessed people choosing bitterness verses forgiveness and realize that the grass is not greener on the other side. I’ve seen a well of emotions reappear after 35 years of betrayal and the pain that was caused from the lack of grace given. Generations suffering from selfish decisions and joy buried because facing truth is just too hard. The devil is having a party as he brings chaos to our marriages and casts a sky of despair to those too weak to fight the battle.
In the old testament we see that joy was associated with true worship of God. During King Hezekiah’s reign, the Israelites rededicated themselves to God and we read that the people renewed their commitment to God which ultimately reignited the joy in their hearts. Paul experienced joy by simply doing God’s will in his ministry and encourages us to find joy in Christ’s sufferings. James tells us to “count it all joy” when we are facing trials or in the midst of suffering. The only thing that can steal our joy is sin. By encompassing your life with His Word and His truth you protect yourself against the flaming arrows that want to rip that smile, the baby step towards healing, and the joy that is promised to us. Allow the joy to shine through to the outside and let others see the beauty in the ashes as God restores your heart and heals your wounds.
In Isaiah 55:12, we are told to “go out with joy and be led forth in peace.” Have you been able to follow through with that command as you face personal struggles and hardships?
What things bring you joy from sunrise to sunset? kids, coffee, sunshine, flowers, running, crafts, family, music, smiles, brownies, and knowing God loves me
“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider:
God has made the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14
“Rejoice in the lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
Romans 12:12, James 1:2, Galatians 5:22, Psalm 16:9, Psalm 71:23, Psalm 126:5
“Fear & doubt are conquered by a faith that rejoices. And faith can rejoice because the promises of God are as certain as God Himself.” -Kay Arthur
From one busy mom to another, I wish you all a Happy Mother's Day…everyday! Our chores can be put on hold for a day, but the duties of a mom are always waiting to be done again the following day. Our tasks never end and somehow we keep going too. Praying a special blessing over every mom, mom-to-be, and those amazing friends who encourage us as we do what we do best: being mommies.
After one of the first small group meetings, a young wife had a revelation and sent me what God had spoken to her as she sought His insight into the study. Without changing any of her words, I wanted to share with you what she had been given in imagery:
"I wanted to tell you that at our last meeting, I think God gave me this picture in my mind of a garden. A beautiful garden representing my marriage. And a weed popped up in the garden, which is bitterness. Like you said, in the beginning of betrayal, bitterness will almost be automatic, but it's what we do with it. Sometimes I choose to sit in front of this weed and tell myself the whole garden is ruined. I don't enjoy the rest of the flowers, or the fruits growing. This weed was put there by the enemy, but it won't grow unless we water it and tend to it (i.e. nurse it). If I do pay too much attention to it, water it, nurse it, it will grow quickly. It will take over my entire garden.
And if I sit in front of this weed all the time and ignore the rest of the garden, the beautiful flowers will eventually die too. The weed also needs sun to survive, so the way I kill it off is to put it in the shadow of the cross. In the darkness, without water, it won't survive…and my garden will flourish once again. There may be other weeds that pop up every now and again, but I will still be able to enjoy my garden. I'm learning how to reject the lies the enemy tells, and to choose not to focus on the bitterness, but instead on the good works God is doing in my marriage."
It amazes me how in our own time, own ways and own stories, God meets us with what we need for the moment to better understand the progress and areas in need of more growth. I absolutely love the word picture of the weeds in the garden.
The first time out in the Spring can be daunting and overwhelming as there is no good place to start besides right in front of you with weeds and winter dead growth tangled up and sprouting. It takes you getting on your knees, gloves on and shovel in hand, to tackle the mess in below you. We have to maintain the flower beds with weed killer, God's Word, and allow the sun to grow the beauty in the gardens to see the progress long term. If we constantly keep ourselves head down staying busy, we never see the big picture or progress and direction of where we need to go.
By allowing the cross to do the justice of the "weeds", we can put all our energy into the flowers, the fruits, and the colors God has created for us to enjoy. Take the time to notice the color variations in the pedals, the difference between each flower and how none is alike.
Ask yourself, "Am I spending too much time trying to kill this one weed and not noticing the acres of stunning gardens around me?" or "Am I allowing the shadow of the cross to kill the weeds so I can enjoy the rest of the garden?"
Some marriages today have a lack of depth and understanding, and couples rarely give thought to furthering their marital education. We get our degree, the exchange of "I do's", and relish in the newlywed state of marriage for a few years, sometimes less. Then life happens, children appear, and jobs become daily routines mixed with household chores and driving kids from sports to school.
How is it that we put thousands of dollars into a piece of paper that possibly will gain us a career and most often comes with continued education, but we don’t continue the education of marriage. It happens so slowly that we don't see it coming, but married life becomes similar to “college roommates,” passing in the halls. We loose the reward in our relationship.
Part of our continued marriage education should be installing firewalls into our daily routines, in order to guard against viruses that rewire our thought process, make us stumble, and lose focus on the prize.
In Proverbs 31, we're told as wives of noble character to " bring him good, not harm," and that we are "clothed in strength and dignity." In what ways have you brought good rather than harm?
Is there a lack of “continued education” within your marriage?
Are you intimidated of marriage conferences? Why?
What are some ways that you have grown deeper in your marriage?
What are some other ways we can guard ourselves, educate our marriages, and show others our respect for our spouses when in public?
It is through healthy boundaries and education as a couple, that can defeat the mind.
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edge sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12
Proverbs 1:5, Proverbs 18:15
Being able to have transparent communication in your relationship and finding new ways to express your love towards each other will not only build trust but strengthen your vows. Gary Chapman in his book, The Five Love Languages, helps us discover what our love languages are and how vital it is to speak each others language in a marriage.
Allow your tone of voice, body language, and ability to speak in love expand your marriage to the next level as you both rediscover a new marriage. Sometimes that means going outside your comfort zone and having to discuss what you’re REALLY thinking, but trust me, the more honest you can be will inspire the other to open up and share their thoughts as well.
Do you sometimes feel like you’re the only one who understands what is coming out of your mouth?
How has your body language changed the tone of conversation with others?
When discussing the raw heart issues in your marriage, do you find yourself speaking in humility and love or anger and bitterness?
Ephesians 4:29, Hebrews 4:12, James 1:19,Psalm 19:14
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24
Do you remember playing the childhood game Telephone? You sit in a circle and start by whisper in one person’s ear a statement and by the time it reaches the other end the statement is twisted, backwards, and no where near the statement first spoken. It can be hilarious to see how fast the story can change and be altered simply because people aren’t listening intently, in a rush or say something backwards. Same goes for when you say something in confidence to a friend or in passing to someone that asks, “How are you doing?” It always amazes me how quickly stories can be changed for the worse if not protected.
I was once told to protect my story as it was mine to share when I felt compelled to share and when I felt safe enough to bring light to my marriage situation. For years after Tim and I went through our dark valley, just our immediate family, pastors, and two close friends knew the struggles we were dealing with. I had a few clients who knew but it was only because of tears or having to reschedule appointments that they found out. We knew that in order to fix us we had to protect our journey by keeping silence so outside opinion and games of “telephone” didn’t play against our progress. We surrounded our little family with those that would uplift us, pray for us and stand behind us in the trenches.
Jesus did the same as He performed miracles when walking on this earth. Jesus had His 12 disciples come alongside Him to pray for Him, support Him, and set the story straight when whispers started to spread.
Are you taking measures to protect YOUR story?
Have you been supportive & respectful of your spouse when sharing your story?
Acts 15:32, Romans 15:7, Hebrews 10:24, Galatians 6:2, Romans 12:11
God didn’t wait to be crucified until we fully understood the impact His death would have on us. He died. He forgave. He gave us life. We need to respond in the same way, challenging ourselves to look past the scars and sometimes bloody mess, to offer to those who have hurt us the worst. because God did the same for you and for me. We need to forgive as we have been forgiven.
“We need to forgive others so Satan cannot take advantage of us. We are commanded to get rid of all bitterness in our lives. Forgiving yourself is accepting the truth that God has already forgiven you in Christ. Forgiveness is not forgetting. Once you choose to forgive someone, then Christ can come and begin to heal you of your hurts. But the healing cannot begin until you first forgive. Forgiveness is mainly a matter of obedience to God. God wants you to be free; there is no other way. Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving. You will never get there. Make the hard choice to forgive even if you don’t feel like it. Once you choose to forgive, Satan will have lost his power over you in that area, and God’s healing touch will be free to move.”
Neil T. Anderson
The Bondage Breaker
“A betrayer’s humble repentance in word and deed will pave the way for the betrayed to again risk opening his or her heart and offering the sweet fruit of forgiveness that can lead to restoration and renewed joy.”
- Tim Jackson
Ephesians 4:31-32, Luke 6:37, Mark 11:25, Matthew 6:15, James 5:16, Acts 2:38
Are there areas in your life where forgiveness is needed?
Do you have a hard time allowing God to bring justice rather than you punish others for the hurt in your life?
I wish hope was found as easily as dust bunnies quickly cluster together. Somedays it may feel like you need to tear down the walls of Jericho in order to see just a glimmer of hope shine through to your soul and other days it may shine through so brightly like a clear sunny afternoon. It’s in the moments where the sun is shining through that, although you feel there is progress and see hope, that you also see the dirt, smudges, and wet kisses from the stresses of life too. Hope is not an emotion; it’s a verb.
We have to actively work on seeing the best in our situations and seeing God in the little moments weaving everything together for His purpose and His plan. It’s the emotions that can derail us from the progress much like the dirt and smudges on the windows allowing our vision to be clouded and blurred. God wants us to see not the stains but the rays shining through.
Has it been hard to see through the smudges on the window? What do you do when you lose focus?
Psalm 33:22, Jeremiah 17:7, Joel 3:16, Lamentations 3:26, Jeremiah 29:11
Hope is God taking the impossible and making you believe in the possible. I hope for my two year old to potty train herself, for my house to magically clean itself and for my laundry to fold and put itself away. I hope for my sisters cancer to flee from her body and restoration to find her in every aspect of health. I hope for my children to find Godly men and women to marry someday as they embark on this adult relationship stuff. I hope for Christ to come and save me from more pain before I experience it.
Hope is real. Hope is within our reach and God wants us to hope with great excitement in His expectation. It’s what gets us to take that first step towards forgiveness, reconciliation, and sometimes that first hug we crave so intensely. Hope is part of a believers DNA and let us not forget it when life is completely out of control. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.” Psalm 130-5
Is your hope in God? Do you believe He will overcome your pain?
Trusting God after painful betrayal in your marriage is like standing on a cliff near the Grand Canyon as God says, “I’ve got this. Trust me and I will protect you, guide you, and give you what you need in this desperate time of suffering and anguish.” Getting to the point where you can fall; eyes upward and heart in His hands; knowing all you need is to trust and obey, is so much easier said than done but necessary in your process to healing.
When we see in the end that God did have our back and lives taken care of, it’s easier to trust Him the next time we are faced with a difficult situation.
Life experiences can make it hard to trust others with our hearts. I’ve been hurt by some of my closet friends and family members. It has made me a little more cautious as to who I share things with and offer areas of my friendship too BUT, God has never wavered and we can always run to Him.
Trust can be scary. Placing trust and hope in God means allowing God to take you to places you’ve never been before, to put you in uncomfortable situations, and to experience His love in places never thought possible. Sometimes, that means pausing as we may need to stop mid-journey to see the beauty in the pain but never lose sight of God’s will in your life. And so goes the hymn...
“Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we'll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
Has there been situations in your life that have caused you to not trust others and your spouse completely?
Do you give others close to you reasons to trust you and do you allow transparency within your marriage?
If God threw you in the lions den, is your faith strong enough to trust in the promise of the Word knowing that God is with you?
Jeremiah 17:7, Psalm 56:3, Proverbs 11:13, Daniel 6:23,
Revelation 21:5, Joshua 1:9
About the Author
Stephanie is a stay-at-home mommy to four little blessings. Married for 16 years, Tim and Stephanie find new ways to enjoy intimate time together while raising the young family.