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Reignite Friendship in Your Marriage

July 1st, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Romantic relationships often get their start in healthy friendships. Think back to the days when you and your spouse were dating and then engaged — the long talks, romantic picnics, casual walks, endless adventures and the fun you shared together. Then somewhere in the busyness of married life you lost sight of that friendship. And unfortunately, the flames of romance are no longer raging in your marriage without a solid friendship.

Studies now back up the understanding that friendship helps romantic relationships. The National Bureau of Economic Research notes that researchers found that individuals who consider their spouse to be their best friend get about twice as much life satisfaction from marriage as do other married people. The Gallup Organization has calculated that a couple’s friendship could account for 70 percent of overall marital satisfaction. In fact, the emotional intimacy that a married couple shares is said to be five times more important than their physical intimacy. Apparently, growing a stronger friendship with your spouse needs to be of high priority because it will help lead to an overall stronger marriage.

I’ve seen this in my own marriage. My husband, Greg, and I were great friends prior to dating. We began our friendship in college because I dated his roommate — who had dated Greg’s sister. (Yes, this has provided many delightful conversations over the years.) Our friendship led us to the realization that we really had fun together and enjoyed each other, so we began dating. The four years of friendship built a solid basis for our romantic relationship, and 25 years after our wedding, we can see what a gift that friendship foundation has been to our marriage. It’s carried us through the ups and downs of our relationship because the friendship qualities of common kindness, honesty, empathy, loyalty and trust have brought stability to our marriage.

What happened to us?

As many couples settle into married life, the friendship can begin to fade. Often it is due to over-commitment, exhaustion, social-media overload, marriage administration or simply ceasing to do the “little things” for each other.

All these things have a negative impact on a marriage friendship. As you read through that list, did you consider whether any of those issues have weakened the special connection you have with your husband or wife?

Regardless of the cause, the fading of the friend connection in marriage can lead to a lonely, isolated experience. I’ve heard many women say, “We just aren’t friends anymore — it feels like we are just roommates living parallel lives.” If this is your experience, you are not alone.

What can we do to rebuild?

If you desire to rekindle the friendship in your marriage, there are a few simple things you can do. Consider the following: 

Laugh together. Look for ways to laugh together … often! Laughter sets a light-hearted tone in marriage, often making a husband and wife feel safe in the relationship. Tell stories of the past, reminisce about silly things you once said or did, or watch a funny TV show or movie together.

Recognize the differences in how men and women view friendship. Male friendships tend to have different qualities than female friendships. Most men prefer “shoulder-to-shoulder” activities; so if you are a wife wanting to connect with your husband, engage in an activity with him. Most women love deep conversation in order to feel connected; so if you are a husband desiring to connect with your wife, take her for a cup of coffee and enjoy the discussion.

Take an interest in what interests your spouse. Although we all have different likes and dislikes, there are times when we’d do well to sacrifice for each other by participating in what our spouse loves to do. I love to bargain shop — Greg typically hates shopping. So when he offers to come along with me to my favorite store, I feel very connected to him. Now, there is one type of shopping that Greg loves, and that’s shopping for antiques. So when I get on board with his area of interest, it ultimately gives me an amazing opportunity to connect with my husband.

Don’t overcommit yourself. Leave special blocks of time on your calendar for just the two of you. We all run at such a fast pace that we need to create opportunities for connection with each other. Spontaneous times and activities are great, but realistically, most couples probably need to plan for shared time together. Prioritizing our marriage friendship should be apparent by the activities on our calendar.

Put your cell phone down. We often don’t recognize that having our eyes glued to our cell phone or computer can actually rob us of opportunities to connect with each other. Our spouse deserves our undivided attention — and our eye contact. In my marriage relationship, I struggle with screen distractions the most. I feel guilty even writing this, but I have to continually remind myself to “set it down” when Greg is around. I don’t want to continue missing out on the daily connections that are available with him. And I want him to feel confident that he is more important than any incoming texts or emails.

How do we reignite the romantic spark?

Don’t stop intentionally pursuing each other as friends. And remember that you need to be the type of friend you desire your spouse to be for you. That means you need to model the kind of friendship you want to experience with your husband or wife.

Greg and I have now been married for almost a quarter of a century, and I’m certain that not one pursuit we’ve shared has been more profitable than the pursuit of a thriving friendship with each other. We’ve discovered that the time, effort and intentionality have been more than worth it. We are reaping relational benefits today, and we’re confident that we’ll reap more in the years to come.

Via: Focus on the Family

‘Pause before you post’: How to share your kids’ photos safely online

May 1st, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
When Peter and Mariah Bassett had their first son nine years ago, they frequently posted pictures of him on social media so friends and family could see how Samuel was growing. At the time, social media was new, and they believed that only their loved ones would care about Samuel’s pictures.

“When he was really young we posted a lot on social media,” Peter, 43, of Santa Monica, California, told TODAY. “And continued — as parents do.”

But as social media< evolved, Peter’s view of sharing pictures of Samuel, and his brother Benjamin, 6, changed, too. “It definitely made me think about what I was doing and how I was interacting with social media and exposing my children,” he said. While the couple never used hashtags or posted pictures of their children in the bath, naked or potty training, they still began to wonder about sharing photos online. The Bassetts recently became involved with a campaign from the Child Rescue Coalition that dramatically changed how they view posting pictures of their children on social media. The campaign, called @KidsForPrivacy, educates parents about how oversharing pictures exposes children to predators. Even though Peter works with social media as head of a digital production team at David & Goliath —the Los-Angeles-based advertising firm that helped the Child Rescue Coalition create the campaign —the project showed him how hashtags can make children vulnerable.

During the month of April, which is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the organization will flood some hashtags with pictures of children holding up signs that say, “Privacy Please” instead of showing their faces.

“We are trying to help parents with the education about the need for privacy, that they can protect children online and change behavior for people who are overexposing their kids,” said Carly Yoost, Founder and CEO of Child Rescue Coalition.

Yoost says the Child Rescue Coalition has learned how social media makes it all too easy for predators to get pictures of children, which they trade as pornography. By age 2, 90 percent of children have been featured on social media, Yoost said. Most parents believe pictures of their children in the bath or naked are simply innocent snapshots of childhood.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize that they can end up in the wrong hands,” Yoost said.

And, more than 100 hashtags, including #nakedkids, #kidsbathing and #pottytraining, create places where predators can easily find pictures.

“By trading child pornography, they are showing they have an interest (in abuse). Eighty-five percent of people who have pornography have been hands-on abusers,” Yoost said.

While the facts on child abuse can seem scary, Yoost said the campaign is not intended to frighten parents. She just wants parents to “pause before you post” by considering a few questions.

“Is this an embarrassing photo that can potentially lead them to being bullied or cause embarrassment down the road?” she said. “Could this be viewed as sexual bait?”

Another step parents can take: Check privacy settings.

“Eighty-nine percent of parents who are sharing pictures online haven’t checked their privacy settings for more than a year,” Yoost said.

That’s what Mariah Bassett did with her social media accounts so pictures of her children are only seen by her friends and family (Peter isn’t on social media right now). Having tighter privacy settings stops potential predators from getting pictures of your children.

“That is why you have to be extremely careful,” Yoost said. “You never know what individual would have this interest and be capable of being that child predator.”

What Mom Really wants for Mother’s Day

May 1st, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips

Jewelry, flowers, and chocolates are great, but here’s a list of what moms we polled really want for Mother’s Day. We’ve even included some extra-credit tips for overachievers. Or you could go with one mom’s response, which pretty much sums it up: “I want a Wonder Woman cape, preferably made out of diamonds, along with the statement: ‘You were right about everything, and we’d be lost without you.'”

#1 Clean House

Being a mom is stressful, and coming home to a clean house, even if it only lasts 10 minutes, is like a little slice of heaven for us. You don’t have to hire a professional to give mom the clean house she deserves. Instead, try and tackle the mess around the house.

#2 Sleep

When you’re a mom, getting a full night’s rest without waking up to an alarm clock or a hungry child in the morning is not only a dream come true, it’s unheard of. Try treating Mom to a full nights rest without bothering her.

Extra credit: Pamper her on Mother’s Day by bringing her coffee and her favorite book along with breakfast in bed—you know she’s not going to want to leave the comfort of the covers anyway.

#3 A Really Good Workout

Working out after baby can help boost confidence, fight postpartum depression, and act as a huge mood booster for any mama out there. But with a baby in tow it can be hard to find time to get in a good workout. Offer to take care of the kids once a week so she can go to Zumba class, or sign her up for an online program or gym membership.

#4 Spa Day

A massage, mani/pedi or facial are all wonderful gifts to show us how much we’re appreciated. Older kids could get creative and set up a home spa with candles, homemade scrubs, etc.

#5 A Day Free from the “Mom Routine”

We love being mamas; we really do. But we would also love a day free from the “mom routine.” That means no dishes, laundry, chauffeur duty, dressing little ones, etc

#6 Car Wash

A vehicle free from crumbs and clutter is like a commuting oasis. Take a few minutes to clean up the stray chicken nuggets and the sippy cup that rolled under the seat. If you’re going for Partner of the Year award, vacuum up the carpets and wipe down the seats.

Extra credit: You could even get her car detailed at the local dealership or car wash.

#7 Subscription Box

Give the gift that keeps on giving with a subscription box. From self-care to Pinterest-inspired DIY boxes, she’ll get excited every month when her box shows up on the doorstep

#8 Turn the Honey-Do into a Honey-Done List

Every time mom walks by that broken _______ (fill in the blank), it drives her crazy. If you complete the Honey-Do List of lingering household projects, you will be one happy man come Father’s Day — trust us!

#9 What’s for Dinner?

Between meal planning, grocery shopping, and actually making dinner there’s a lot of time that goes into making sure your family is fed every night. Take that chore off her plate for a night (or a week) and allow mom to enjoy extra time with the kids.

#10 The Best Things in Life are Free

The gifts we will treasure forever are the homemade cards, handprints, and photo frames from our children that remind us what a blessing it truly is to be a mom. Gather some craft supplies and make cards or these salt dough handprints as a family.

Adapted from:

Deal with Weeds without Pesticides

May 1st, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
The sun will come out on day – and so will the weeds. Try dealing with weeds this spring and summer without pesticides!

# 1 – Pull them
# 2 – Landscape fabric
# 3 – Use Mulch
# 4 – Pull flower heads
# 5 – Change mower height
# 6 – Dig only what you need
# 7 – Get/Rent goats
# 8 – Cover with newspaper
# 9 – Pour boiling water on them
#10 – Use a weed torch
#11 – Use rock salt
#12 – Create edging
#13 – Pour vinegar on them
#14 – Out number with plants you like
#15 – Eat them
#16 – Learn to love them


Smile Your Way to Better Health

May 1st, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
WHEN you are a child you smile about 400 times a day but by the time you become an adult, it is down to a paltry 20 daily grins.

Not only is that a shame, it turns out that cracking a smile can work wonders for mind and body, too.

Jon Axworthy explains what turning that frown upside down can do for you.

  1. Makes you a Better Runner

Want to crush your personal best?

Then smile when it starts to hurt. Researchers at Ulster and Swansea universities found that club-level runners who smiled for six minutes while pounding the treadmill had a more economical running movement.

They also felt like they had made less effort.

  1. Sparks Creativity

If you are suffering a mental block, grin. A study found that students who watched a film that made them smile and laugh were then better at performing mental arithmetic tasks. It also concluded that happier workers were 12 per cent more productive.

  1. Cuts Stress

Even just forcing a smile, as 169 students were told to do in a University of Kansas study, is enough to lower heart rate, which is a clear indicator of the body’s stress response. They were asked to perform a difficult multi-tasking activity during which they had to smile to a greater or lesser extent. The group that beamed most reported the biggest drop in heart rate.

  1. Improves Decision-Making

In a study published in the journal Cognition And Emotion, older adults were made to smile by being given a bag of sweets and a thank you card when they arrived.

  1. Makes Others Trust You

It is thought humans evolved to smile to signal trust. This was backed up by US research, which found that people were more willing to share money with someone who smiled while trying to persuade them to do so. The study authors believe smiling narrows the field of vision and gives other people the impression that you are positively focused on them.

Adapted from:

7 Questions Every Husband Should Be Asking Himself

March 2nd, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Why do we men have an easier time talking about our favorite teams than our marriages? Is it because we don’t care? No. Is it because we care more about sports or politics than our marriages? Definitely not.

I suspect that for most of us, there’s insecurity and uncertainty. Reflecting upon our performance as husbands feels threatening. Our first thought might be: What am I doing wrong? And who wants to talk about that? (I realize there may be exceptions, and I ask those self-assured husbands to intercede for the rest of us.)

I might venture to say that we keep up with our marriages in similar fashion as those of us who live in New England—but who aren’t football fans—keep up with the Patriots: just enough to nod intelligently while the true fan goes on and on about Brady and Belichick. This strategy works when Christian men talk to other Christian men. The trouble comes when the truest fan of marriage, your wife, asks, “How do you think you’re doing as a Christian husband?”

After 26 years of marriage and hundreds of hours sitting with other men as we process our relational failures and occasional successes, we might want to consider how our reluctance to engage with our friends on this topic might end up blocking us from our desired goal. In the hope of fostering dialogue, here are seven starters to ask each other.

  1. How’s your prayer life?  Do you pray when no one is looking? When our interchanges with the Lord are self-initiated rather than dependent upon our wives, pastors, or small group leaders, we have more objectivity in the face of our failures. We don’t have to be perennially ashamed and generically guilty. We can build on the foundation of the Lord’s forgiveness and make better choices that are likely to stick. We can pray for our wife to be blessed beyond measure, even through us.
  2. How well are you listening to your wife? When she asks you to put down your phone or close your computer for the tenth time, does her disappointment register or do you simply feel annoyed? She didn’t just want to talk: she wanted you to listen. And to care. Did you remember to ask her about the concerns she voiced during your conversation the night before? We serve our wives through listening and following up on what was said.
  3. Are you aware of your mistakes? If you’re not saying “I’m sorry” on a regular basis, you’re probably not paying attention. (And yes, this goes both ways.) This includes apologizing for obvious infractions (like when you spilled your work frustration onto her and the kids) as well as the more mundane ones (forgetting to change the light bulb she can’t reach). Owning our mistakes helps our wives to trust us and keeps us in reality.
  4. Are you doing the things you promise to do? Early in our marriage, I would attempt to jettison out of conflict by promising that I would never do it again. (Itbeing any number of indiscretions such as being late for dinner or over-reacting during a conflict.) I had no idea what I was talking about and this only led to disappointment when I did the exact same thing two months later. A sincere apology is undercut by an unfounded promise and a bad track record. The truth is, I may continue to be late, to overreact, or forget to replace the light bulbs. Instead of overpromising, I’ve learned to let her know that I’m aware of my specific shortcomings and to keep her posted on how I am addressing them.
  5. Are you serving your home other than through your income? Yes, she may be more perceptive about what the children need and more efficient at running the home, but that doesn’t mean you can defer. For me, deferring usually comes to a screaming halt when I happen upon something that isn’t performed to my specifications (a missing check in the register or another unmatched sock).  All of my previous blithe indifference becomes a dictatorship about how things should be done. It goes much better for me if I help a little at a time, and keep my overwrought master schemes to myself.
  6. Are you digging into Scripture so that you understand what God is asking of you? Far too many of us think we know what Scripture says about marital relationships but really only vaguely remember what serves our best interests. Do your own work. Spend time going through the entire arc of Scripture so that you can truly understand what sacrificial love and godly submission look like. (Hint: The latter does not mean you can play the submission card when you want sex.) Give God the opportunity to correct you so your wife doesn’t have to. (See #3 above.)
  7. Are you pursuing sobriety—in thought and deed? Jesus tells us to pluck out our eyes, cut off our hands and feet, and cauterize our hearts rather than continue to sin. That seems to imply that what we do with our eyes, our minds, and our sexuality deeply impacts those who are closest to us. Software safeguards are the least we can do and maybe it’s time to take it to the next level and talk about your areas of sin and struggle with other men instead of avoiding it and pontificating about how magnificently the QB did in the second half. When you go first and say the obvious, you are likely to be met with support, camaraderie, and relief. And my guess is you’ll discover that talking about your marriage with other men will actually help you become a better husband.


Faith Films Coming This Spring

February 6th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
February 16th, 2018 – “SAMSON” (not yet rated) is based on the powerful story of a champion chosen by God to deliver Israel. His supernatural strength and impulsive decisions quickly pit him against the oppressive Philistine empire. After being betrayed, captured, and blinded, Samson calls upon his God once more and turns imprisonment into final victory. 

March 16th, 2018 – “I Can Only Imagine”, based on the incredible true-life story that inspired the beloved, chart-topping song, is a powerful reminder of how God can soften the hardest of hearts, offer forgiveness to the unforgivable, and mend broken relationships.

March 28th, 2018 – “Paul, Apostle Of Christ” brings to vivid life on screen the epic story of Paul, the man who went from persecutor of the church to its most powerful and important proponent. Paul suffers alone in a Roman prison, awaiting his execution under Emperor Nero. Mauritius, the ambitious prison prefect, can hardly see what threat this broken man poses. Once he was Saul of Tarsus, the high-ranking and brutal killer of Christians. Now his faith rattles Rome. At great risk, Luke the Physician visits the aged Paul to comfort and tend to him—and to question, to transcribe and to smuggle out Paul’s letters to the growing community of believers. Amid Nero’s inhuman persecution, these men and women will spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and change the world. 

March 30th, 2018 – “God’s Not Dead 3: A Light In the Darkness” follows Reverend Dave as he is released from prison to a flurry of controversy. The growing social unrest leads to Dave’s church being burned down, taking with it the life of his closest friend.

Devastated, Dave is launched on a painful spiritual journey as he fights against the University trying to keep him from rebuilding his church, and as his belief that “God is good all the time” is put to the test.