12 things you learn in 12 years of marriage.

6 Aug

On Sunday, we’ll celebrate our twelfth wedding anniversary.

You know the drill – it feels like forever and yesterday all at the same time.

I’ve been reflecting on my marriage a lot lately.  We’ve had some really incredible highs, and some really dark lows.  We’ve faced some smooth sailing waters and some rough drowning storms.  We’ve laughed until we cried and cried until we laughed.  We’ve wounded each other deeply and healed wounds no one else on earth ever could.  We’ve lived selfishly and also entirely selfless when it mattered most.

We’ve been human.  We’ve been married.  And thank God almightly, we’re both redeemed.

I thought I’d share with you the twelve things I think are most important to learn (hopefully before twelve years of marriage)

1.) Sometimes, you won’t have butterflies.

I’m not on the bandwagon that says Love is never a feeling – Love is just a choice.  Because I think choosing to love someone makes you feel emotions you’ve never felt before.

But sometimes, life is hard, your spouse sins against you, or you’re in a low point yourself and you just don’t feel giddy and silly like you did when you were dating.

That’s not a sign of a failing marriage.  That’s a sign that you need a date night.

2.) Speaking of date night – don’t ever stop dating.

Plan time for just the two of you – even if you have four kids and hundreds of things on the calendar.

When funds are low, play it simple and pick a free activity.  Just never use the excuse that funds are always low and never invest in your marriage.  Your marriage is worth $100 every once in awhile to pay for a sitter and go out to dinner.  It’s not about the money, it’s about getting away together to connect, laugh, hold hands, look in each other’s eyes, share memories, dream about the future, and  HAVE FUN!!

3.) There’s something about your vows you might not have realized before and that some never realize, but I’ll let you in on the truth…..  That phrase “In sickness & In Health”  — that’s a lot bigger than physical illness.

I wrote an entire post on this one truth before right here, so I’m not going to elaborate too in depth but if you polled ALL the divorce cases in the entire world, less than 1% happen because someone’s spouse got cancer, Parkinson’s or another illness.

However, SPIRITUAL health & sickness are relevant to all of us.  Sometimes our spouses are spiritually sick.  They are unsaved (which is spiritual death, the ultimate sickness)  they are caught in addiction, they are full of pride, they are in a low spot and not investing in their relationship with the Lord…..and sometimes, we’re the ones who are spiritually sick.

And the divorce courts are FILLED with those reasons – adultery, addictions, debt, etc.

When your spouse is spiritually sick, it’s time to carry them to the Lord.  Be on your knees in prayer, hold their hand anyway, draw near to Christ yourself so being close to you helps them be close to Christ.  Let the Holy Spirit shake out their heart through the power of your love standing firm on your vows instead of taking it in your own hands to convict and accuse.

4.) Oil & Water.

Some personalities really are oil & water.

We can let that divide us or let it refine us.  What can I learn from my spouse that I naturally don’t experience with my personality?  What challenges can I take to step out of my comfort zone and grow?  What qualities can I follow as ones I naturally lack in?

5.) Marriage is meant to make us Holy.

Without God, the union of marriage is lacking.  God is the author and orchestrator of marriage. It was His good and perfect plan for man (resembling some qualities of God) and woman (resembling the other qualities of God) to become ONE FLESH and complement each other completely giving us the full picture of God.

The marriage resembles Christ and His bride (the church) loving selflessly, unconditionally and laying His life down, while the Bride responds with admiration, praise, loyalty and acceptance.

While marriage God’s way brings about unspeakable joy — the goal is not joy, the goal is holiness.

6.) Nothing will reveal your sin faster than marriage.

When you’re angry at your spouse, chances are — there’s some sin present (and not just in their life.)

Pride, Idolatry, Selfishness, Unforgiveness, Bitterness, Impatience, and a Lack of Self Control are messy sins that hide behind our blaming words.

I use to have my husband as an idol thinking he should be like Christ and fill every part of me, including making me happy at every turn. There was a HUGE plank in my eye yet all I cared about was the speck in his.

7.) The husband is the head of the family.

This is where the curse of the fall hits many of us women in the gut!!  We’re very proud.  We can sometimes be very certain we know how to do everything, and do it better than our husbands. We expect our husbands to do what we say, when we say it and we treat them like children.

We become the mother of our kids and of our husbands, belittling and joking about them in “bashing circles.”

There is no faster way to destroy the marriage than for the woman to take her husbands role from him.  He will become weak, complacent, reserved and protect himself from her at all costs.

And she will become proud, bitter and burdened carrying the weight she was never designed to carry.

The best way for the husband to lead his family is just how God designed.

He loves his wife and his children unconditionally and is willing to lay himself down for them.

And the wife RESPECTS him unconditionally (not asking him to earn it like the world has sabotaged us into believing) by trusting him, building him up, speaking gently, honoring her marriage publicly and privately, coming along side to help.

When this is working well in a marriage, the wife will be able to share all her concerns and ideas and the husband will do everything in his power to make all her dreams come true according to what God allows.  If a husband knows his wife will love, cherish and respect him even if he has to make a decision that is a little different than what she was thinking would work, He’ll do it with grace and the union will grow closer.

8.) Speaking of growing closer, Sex is a gift from God.

Despite what the world leads us to believe, sex is not for everyone recreationally, NOR is sex in marriage for just the man’s benefit.

Sex is a gift for marriage.  It bonds the man and woman like nothing else can.  It should be cherished, explored, discussed, given freely and with each passing day- the two should become experts in each others bodies.

Far too many couples buy into lies and neglect to discover how sex truly oils the marriage to keep it functionally flawlessly.

When people argue, it’s the first thing to go.  This should not be. Sex is not a weapon, it’s a gift.


We all sin.  We all hurt each other.  It happens in marriage, in parenting, in friendships, in church….  it happens period.

When my spouse sins against me, I’ve learned to forgive quickly by remembering times that I’VE sinned against him and he’s forgiven me.

Instead of making a mental list and ADDING his current mistake to the list of all his other mistakes and holding them all under lock and key…. I chose not to keep a record of wrongs.

Instead, I reflect on how gracious he’s been to me for my sins and I extend the same mercy and forgiveness back.

10.) Speaking each others love language is a must.

No, it will not come natural if your love language is different than your spouse.

Again, marriage is meant to refine us and make us holy.  What better way to selflessly love your spouse than to do what does not come natural to love them in the way they feel it deepest.

If you don’t know your spouse’s love language — Google “the five love languages” together and figure it out!

11.) Become best friends.

Don’t just say you are because that’s what people say, truly become best friends.

When you love and respect unconditionally, the safety increases IMMENSELY and the real heart of a person in marriage can shine through.

Take an interest in something your spouse likes.  Or if you really truly can’t get behind their most favorite activity, find a special activity, club, game ANYTHING the two of you love and make that something you can talk about, do and explore together.

Tell each other your secrets, fears, dreams and goals.  Never squash the other persons words.  Cherish them, praise them, and cheer them on!

12.) When it is time to confront sin, the WAY you say something makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE between whether or not it can be heard.

There is a time and place to say “That really hurt me, or we need to talk about this.”

But if you take a tone, attitude, parental stance, condemning approach or anything that says you’re about to face my wrath or judgment, you won’t find resolution and you’ll likely argue for days or weeks or worse yet, months because it gets brought back up later!

We all sin.  But when you feel like your spouse sins against you, go to them humbly and without judgment and condemnation and just share your heart.

It’s much more likely that they’ll hear you and you’ll be able to come to a resolution.



Of course, I could go on and on with tips, ideas and truths about marriage but I’m out of time to sit at the computer this morning!

So — here’s my practical application:

Go back through that list of twelve and reflect today on the two that grab you the most.

Ask yourself the tough questions, confess any sin and pray today for your marriage.

Satan would love more than anything to divide you and your spouse and chalk it up on the board as another failed marriage — don’t let him.


Fifty Shades.

26 Jul

Kayla Gulick:

Well….. I originally wrote this post in September of 2012….and now that the trailer is actually released, looks like it’s time for a repost. I’m so sad over this reality. And my heart hurts for the number of my friends sharing the trailer on Facebook.

Originally posted on Lessons Of Mercy:

I first heard about the books “Fifty Shades of Grey” back at the end of June.  I was concerned immediately when I heard about them, but given that I hadn’t actually read them, it seemed pretty unfair to make a snap comment or rash judgement.  Shortly after, I saw a Christian review and was relieved that my initial response did carry justification for what I originally thought.  I have prayed about these books, researched on-line, read many reviews, but still have not actually held one of the books in my hand, or read a single word.  And I won’t.  I’m going to share with you why I’m convicted to stay away.

I wasn’t sure I was going to ever blog about this topic.  Mostly because I know what I’m going to share will NOT make me popular in the world.  In fact, I’m discovering more and more rapidly, it isn’t even going…

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It’s MY plank?????

17 Jul

I was lied to last week.

I suppose I can’t be sure by who since three people are involved. But I got three different stories.

Two of the three I am 95% positive are the ones who were being untruthful and yet, I gave them both the freedom to say the truth without any ounce of pressure or disbelief on my end whatsoever and still, they chose to lie.

I’m not angry they lied.  They were both trying to cover for another person.  I’ve been there.  I get it.

But the irony is so thick and so heavy… I can’t escape it.

Irony?  Yes, irony.  These two people made me carry a cross that was so heavy, no one person could have ever carried it and survived.  I didn’t survive.  I died.  I fell all apart.  I couldn’t forgive myself. I couldn’t accept the past, present or future.  I didn’t know how to function without constant fear of confrontation and rejection.

You see, I had told a couple silly insignificant lies almost 15 years ago…. and I couldn’t be forgiven.  I could never be trusted again.  I was deemed unlovable and unbelievable on any account.  I was mocked and gossiped about and labeled “THE LIAR”

All the while, I was very aware that they were lying about so many things.  I tried on some occasions to confront the situation, but it was pointless.

I actually tried the gossip train.  The revenge train.  The forget about them train. I rode every train…. right until I jumped on the crazy train.

And then God stepped in.  In all His glory He changed me from the inside out.  He gave me my life back.  Freedom. Forgiveness. Mercy. Grace. Hope. Faith.

And He changed everything.

Today, I have no hard feelings whatsoever. When Satan has his hands on things, it’s suffocating, intoxicating and he puts on a death grip.  I don’t blame anyone. Sin is engrossing and blinding.  There is no one to blame for that but Satan himself.  The accuser, liar, thief and demon.

However, the irony is just causing me to do some self reflecting—

Bitter or Better?

Here’s the truth:  this isn’t a finger pointing game.

Satan’s schemes are never singled out for one person only.  His deceit is playing the same games on all of us.

What blinders do I wear?  What don’t I see about myself?

1.) What negative qualities or characteristics do I naturally see in others?

2.) Is there a reoccurring fault I find in multiple people or one person I have constant interaction with?

3.) Do I grow angry or disgusted when a certain behavior is discussed?

4.) Do I feel proud or judgmental toward people who do these behaviors I don’t like?

5.) Do I minimize any time I’ve ever done these behaviors?

Ding, Ding, Ding…. we have a winner Johnny.

That glaring quality I detest (for another post someday), just might be present in my own life.

Hence the verse, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)


It’s so easy to see the faults in others.  And so hard to see our own.  Until we realize one day that the faults we see in others usually are our faults, and that’s why we hate them so much.  We just need to own them; instead of minimizing them in our lives and magnifying them in others.

Practical Application:

How do your answers pan out to the five questions above?

What do you see in the mirror?

Any planks?

I wish you just…..

7 Jul

I don’t think there is ever a happy ending in marriage from the words “I wish you just….”


It’s easy to go there. Satan desires us to go there and he’ll lead us there at every turn.

I wish you just…..

didn’t nag me

let me go out with my friends more

helped around the house

didn’t spend money on junk

liked what I like

talked more respectfully to me

prayed with me

surprised me

thought I was funny

spoke my love language

enjoyed the same recreations I do

liked sports

didn’t use swear words

would be more free in the bedroom

desired me

liked holding hands in public




I mean I can go on for hours for both men and women right?


For what though?  Premeditated resentment later?  Division?  Anger? Doubt? Confusion? Temptation that someone else or something else would be better?

Check, check, check, check.

I wish you just…. always leaves us feeling like we would “finally, truly, completely be happy, accepted and loved if so & so just did such & such.”

Would we?

I’ve wanted my husband to change in a lot of areas.  And he has, without a doubt.  But my, “I wish you just” list just keeps growing and changing.

He can’t win.

That’s the truth right?

I wish you just …. were perfect.

That’s the bottom line.  I want perfection. And not perfection for any standard accept my OWN standard of perfection.

I wish you just… is so selfish because it’s desiring (dare I say, DEMANDING) your every desire be met.

Every temptation in the book will look appealing because it’ll appear like perfection… until I have it.  And then, it’ll be revealed as nothing more than a false reality.

I personally believe divorce happens because of “I wish you just” lists.

Instead of, “I’m so thankful you…” lists.

How about it?

Can you make an “I’m thankful you” list today and rip up the “I wish you just” list?

Practical Application:

Take control of your lists.  I wish you just, comes easy.

I’m thankful you lists take intention.  That’s why marriage takes work.  What kind of a list do you want your spouse to make about you?


Sarcasm – friend or foe?

4 Jul

Testing, Testing?!?!
Is this thing on?

Wow friends…. if any of you are left.  I haven’t wrote anything in like 6-7 weeks.  I’m sorry to my faithful readers.  I’ve been so busy. 


the whole truth is that I’ve struggled to have anything to write about.

It’s been a hard season for us.  And sometimes, it takes everything you’ve got just to bear through it… and I literally felt like it’d take too much energy to write a single word.  I didn’t need any reason to think more about the things I was going through by writing about them.

Normally I’m all for sharing your heart in the heat of the battle instead of just when it’s all over as a nice, pretty testimony…. but I couldn’t speak.

So here… today…. this will be short and sweet but I wanted to let you all know – I’m here! I’m not sure how often I’ll be writing right now, but I am still alive :)

I read an article the other day that, dare I say this….?  Pissed me off.

Sorry, but to say, made me a little angry doesn’t nearly do it justice.

I’m so sick and tired of people making their cases and arguments for something based on the cruelty of sarcasm.

Speak about facts.

Speak about feelings.

Speak about gender differences.

Speak about hardships.

Speak about personality conflicts.

But for crying out loud, do it in a manner that honors our fellow human race.

I don’t care how strongly you disagree with someone, they are still created in the image of God and whether they are trapped in sin, or walking as a beloved child of the promise…. they have feelings, struggles, beliefs, temptations, and ideas that they carry as a weight on their back just like the rest of us.

So, because we feel differently, or don’t struggle with something— we’re called to mock the other person?

How dare us.

That disgusts me.

If I have to go to one more women’s event where they trash talk their husbands, I might never hang out with crowds of women again.

Does degrading men for their faults or difference behind their backs build up our marriages and help us bare through the tough stuff?

Or might it just fuel our pride that we’re right, they are wrong and they are stupid, grown children that we have to mother along with our other children at home?

Because THAT is what sarcasm does.

Sarcasm doesn’t prove any points.  EVER.

The purpose of sarcasm is to belittle someone else with tongue in cheek humor that gives us a rush of pride…. “HAHAHA, we’re so right and that stupid, ignorant other group of people is pathetically wrong… idiots.”

Sarcasm does three things:

1.) Shows animosity for others’ feelings and beliefs while puffing up our pride
2.) Causes division and hurt
3.) Fuels the flames of an argument or debate

Those who love their neighbors speak with gentleness and self control.  They respect others’ feelings and treat them with kindness and love.  Even when they disagree they promote peace and work to restore joy.  They cloth themselves in patience and goodness always trying to make decisions that put other’s above themselves, instead of trampling someone beneath sarcastic remarks elevating their own feelings or beliefs instead.

See the trend? They have all 9 fruits of the spirit in their life and they utilize them through the power of the Holy Spirit working inside them.

Sarcasm is not a fruit of the spirit. No one will ever be won to another side, especially in the name of Christ, with sarcasm.

So why use it?

If our goal is to hurt someone else and puff your chest with pride at how we’re so much better than the other person or group… then by all means, keep right on being sarcastic.

But if we love our husband, kids, family, church, or even just HUMAN KIND

ditch the sarcasm.

Win them with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control bearing with them in all things.  And putting off things that might make them stumble, while raising them up above our own feelings.

Practical application:

1. Stop being sarcastic.

2. Start using the fruits of the spirit as my basis for arguments, disagreements and personality conflicts.

3. Treat others as greater than myself.  “For the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve.”

What kind of friend are we?

19 May

It occurred to me while talking with my son about sharing with some friends a decision our family has made that they may not like, we have some growing to do in the area of friendship.

How to be one, and what qualities we’re really looking for in a friend.

And I have to say…. I think our first two natural responses might be off the mark.

Most people when asked…. “what quality do you cherish most in a friendship?” they reply “trustworthy.”

Ok, don’t misunderstand me… trust is needed and a GREAT quality.  But do we want trustworthiness for the right reasons?

I wrote this out the other night to a friend sharing my heart and it’s still on my mind.

So…I’m just thinking out loud here but what if we held ourselves more accountable for our actions instead of blaming our friends for not keeping all our dirty laundry quiet?

What if we put in place a standard that took away the depth of all our secrets that weren’t really secrets but things we shouldn’t be doing? An accountability measure that said “If I’m afraid someone is going to find out I said this, or I did this….then I shouldn’t be saying it or doing it.” Not one that says “How dare she/he tell someone what I said about someone else?”

What would the world look like if we taught our children that finding good friends is not about finding the best secret keepers…. but about finding the people with the least amount of secrets they hold a noose around our neck to keep quiet for them? Or actions to cover up for them?

I think we have become a people of friend jumpers because we want to be able to get away with gossip and secret lives without anyone else finding out about it. And then we blame everyone else if we end up exposed.

If we aren’t the kind of friend who has anything negative to say about others, then our friends become safe and secure with us building true intimacy and security.  They long to honor our friendship, and won’t blab true secrets that need to be kept.  Especially… because we’re telling those things to people who mimic the same standard…. if they aren’t blabbing about others, they likely won’t blab about us.

Lets be the kind of friends who don’t need to add “Don’t tell anyone I said that.” to the end of our sentences and then we won’t be disappointed if people struggle to keep quiet.


Women especially take on the label “catty” and often times, rightly so.  That label comes from speaking gossip, inability to refrain from repeating gossip, a fallout from distrust, and a grudge against another person.

Any secret that needs kept about ourselves first and foremost should be selectively shared with only those who are righteous in the way they relate to us and about others to us.

Practical Application:

What kind of friend am I?

Do I gossip about others?

Do I have a lot of negative opinions about things?

Do I say or expect the phrase to be assumed “don’t tell anyone I said that?”

Am I holding a grudge against someone for throwing me under the bus when really… I had no business saying what I said in the first place?

Am I a friend jumper because I’ve been untrustworthy or I tell secrets to untrustworthy people?

Don’t wrong us.

14 May

Oh friends — I’m so, so busy this time of year.

BASEBALL season is upon us.  And this year, I have TWO boys playing in SEPARATE leagues.  We are running to practice and games 5 or 6 days a week.  We eat supper either at 4:30, or have a snack at 4:30 and munch at the games and eat again at 8:30 -9:00 when we roll back in the house.  It’s chaos most nights… but we’re all making the most of it and adjusting the best we can.

Every year something happens to me when I watch my son(s) play baseball.  I feel like that gentle and quiet spirit I try so hard to cultivate all year long… it leaves me.

Not only do I get excited about the game and love cheering for my boys, I somehow start to take the game personally.

I feel frustrated when our boys mess up, only because I know their talent and I feel their own frustration when their bodies seem to fail them in the moment.

But more than that, I get incredibly worked up when the coaches of my boys’ teams and the coaches of the other teams behave in a manner that degrades the children, the lessons being taught, or the game.

This week, my son (in the 7 & 8 year old league) played a team who beat them 19-0 in 4 innings.

Mind you, in our town… they go from t-ball to 7 & 8 league so this is their very first year of playing the game with real rules.  They are learning that there are three outs, the difference between forced outs and tagged outs, how to make good throws and catch the ball, and how to run the bases. Everything is new!

This other team decided that if our team dropped the ball or had a bad throw, instead of taking advantage of one extra base, they ran 2 or 3 extra bases every time – including sending kids home to run up the score.

When our 7 year olds were batting, they had their infielders move all the way in so they were almost all playing around the pitcher’s mound so if our kids did hit the ball, there was no way they could actually get on base.

And it’s coach pitch, but their coach would pitch but then stand in the middle of the field so our kids had to try to see and play around him, instead of running out of the way once the ball was hit and let the kids play the game.

I won’t even mention the foul ball that they called fair, the kid they let score while their coach was holding the ball, or the way their fans cheered like this was all appropriate and spectacular.

I was mumbling under my breath, texting a friend, and biting a hole in my tongue.

I wanted so much to say something.  How dare they?  Don’t they see how wrong they are?  Don’t they care that they are degrading and hurting our kids?  Don’t they feel any sense of moral responsibility to teach all kids to play the game when they are 7 & 8 years old?  Do they really think they deserve cheers and a pat on the back for their behavior?

And then I thought long and hard the whole next day about my personal anger.

A huge part of me wants to call it righteous anger and justify anything I do with that anger.

And yet… I’m thinking about some other applications.

Am I this moved over true righteous anger?  Do I defend Christ like I defend my son’s baseball team?


Or …. more than that…..


Am I this angry over my own sins?

Do I ask myself the tough questions? ….  Am I as mad at myself when I let pride lead my actions as I am at others?

What would I answer if I repeated this same confrontation to myself:  “How dare I?  Don’t I see how wrong I am?  Don’t I care that I am degrading and hurting our kids?  Don’t I feel any sense of moral responsibility to teach all kids? Do I really think I deserve cheers and a pat on the back for my behavior?”

Practical Application:

What really do I have to say for myself?


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