Just Say Yes

Husband: Hey Babe, I had a hard day at work and I was wondering if we could . . .

Wife: I can’t, I have a headache.

Somewhere along the way in history, a headache became the kryptonite that renders women inoperative and deflates husbands faster than a pin pops a balloon. The irony about the infamous headache excuse is that intimacy is the perfect cure. And if a wife is willing to sacrifice she may be surprised to find there is something significant in it for her too. The late Dr. Marvin Gaye called it, “Sexual Healing.” And there is science to back up his research.

Baby, I’m hot just like an oven
I need some lovin’
And baby, I can’t hold it much longer
It’s getting stronger and stronger
And when I get that feeling
I want sexual healing
Sexual healing, oh baby
Makes me feel so fine
Helps to relieve my mind
Sexual healing baby, is good for me
Sexual healing is something that’s good for me

Sexual Healing Lyrics by Marvin Gaye / David Ritz / Odell Brown

Have you ever heard of oxytocin? It’s also referred to as the bonding, cuddle, life, or love hormone. It’s a hormone that is excreted when a mother has a baby, it makes her feel connected to her child. Mothers generally don’t look at their babies and see them as alien creatures. (Even though infants often look alien.) Something inside of a mother causes her to look beyond blood, mucus, and her own physical exhaustion and immediately begin taking care of someone else. Oxytocin is the super glue that fosters mother-baby bonding. Everything from uterine contractions during labor to helping expel the placenta following labor is influenced by oxytocin. It helps a mom’s milk to let-down and helps close blood vessels after birth.

Through nipple stimulation, exercise, rhythmic movement, prayers, relaxation, warm baths, feeling grateful, loving words, laughter, and humor, moms and midwives have been able to stimulate the body to produce oxytocin during labor to lessen the pain of delivery. Imagine that? All of the above sound very similar to things that take place during foreplay between couples prior to having sex. Could it be that God designed this bonding hormone to wire men to feel one with and care for their wives in the same way that He designed it for moms to care for and connect with their babies?

Baby, I got sick this mornin’
A sea was stormin’ inside of me
Baby, I think I’m capsizin’
The waves are risin’ and risin’
And when I get that feeling
I want sexual healing
Sexual healing is good for me
Makes me feel so fine, it’s such a rush
Helps to relieve the mind, and it’s good for us

Marvin Gaye had a point. Sexual healing helps to relieve the mind and is good for us. Sex is deeply therapeutic both emotionally and physically. It is biblically encouraged and I’m sure many husbands with a headache-prone wife will attest to Mr. Gaye’s noted symptoms of feeling like he was capsizing. The seasickness he described is something the release of oxytocin could thwart. In fact, the only time men release this supernatural super glue is when they climax during the sex. Attention all wives who suffer from frequent “headaches” the fact that the only time your husband releases oxytocin is during sex should be enough to cure you for life if you care about the longevity of your love life.

You can outsource just about every other aspect of being a wife. You can hire someone to clean your home, cook your food, do your husband’s laundry, but the last thing you want is to outsource intimacy. Similar to the way that oxytocin causes a mom to connect with her baby it serves as a bonding agent between a husband and wife. This is not a hormone that you ever want your husband to release with someone else.

Oxytocin evokes feelings of:

  • security
  • contentment
  • love
  • trust
  • empathy

Oxytocin helps to reduce cortisol. People with high levels of cortisol may experience:

  • depression
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • emotional irregularities

Wives, I know it sounds counterintuitive to give yourselves to your husband if you are not feeling well, but could it be that you’re not feeling well because you are withholding good from him that’s really good for you? Is there a lack of security, contentment, love, trust, and empathy in your marriage? You might think that the lack of the aforementioned attributes is the cause of your headaches but maybe it’s the other way around. Of all the things you can get away with not doing for your husband doing “it” should not be one of them.

Do not withhold what is good from those who deserve it;
if it is within your power to give it, do it.
Do not send your neighbor away, saying, “Get back with me tomorrow.
I can give it to you then,”
when what he needs is already in your hand.
Make no plans that could result in injury to your neighbor;
after all, he should be more secure because he lives near you.
Avoid fighting with anyone without good reason,
especially when no one has hurt you; you have nothing to fight about.

Proverbs 3:27-35 The Voice (VOICE)

I implemented the “Just Say Yes” policy years ago when my husband and I were walking through the stress of adoption. We had three biological children and adopted three more. Our younger three were ages one, two, and three. Needless to say, life was hard and my headaches were frequent until my doctor looked at me and said, Mrs. Poplar, “You are a walking heart attack.” I wasn’t breathing properly because I was stuck in fight mode. I was living with the chronic pain of inflammation and the frustration of memory loss. One day while studying scriptures on intimacy I began to see parallels between the structure of a females’ body and the temple. I also noticed that the Bible had much to say about how husbands and wives should give themselves to each other.

Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.

Proverbs 5:15-19 ESV

 

I could share several scriptures with you that pertain to intimacy between husband and wife, (a different blog for a different day) but I selected this Proverb because it points to things that promote the release of God’s super glue that causes you to be stuck together with your spouse-oxytocin. Rejoice with your wife, let her breasts fill you with delight, and be intoxicated in her love. Things that can hinder the release of oxytocin in women during labor are fear, stress, feeling like they are being watched, tension, distrust, discomfort, and anxiety. These are also things that can hinder a woman in the bedroom. Husbands I just wanted to add that in there because if you want your wife to join the “Just Say Yes” tribe then you must be ready to love her as yourself and per Dr. Marvin Gaye’s orders, tell her that she’s great!”

You’re my medicine, open up and let me in
Darling, you’re so great, I can’t wait for you to operate
You’re my medicine, open up and let me in
Darling, you’re so great, I can’t wait for you to operate

My husband is a great patient. And he’s also very patient. Over our 19 years of being married, I’ve faced various medical issues like recovery after surgery and the loss of libido that can happen during breastfeeding, after having a baby, or after taking a prescription medication. Those highs and lows are normal parts of being beautifully bound. If there is a couple that is reading this and you are facing some intimate issues don’t be afraid to do some research (both biblically and medically), read a book, seek counseling, or have a heartfelt conversation with your spouse or your doctor. It would be a tragedy for you to abandon ship on your relationship the moment you hit choppy waters.

Even during seasons in which physical obstacles hinder physical sex, there are still ways to make love. The mysterious thing about marital intimacy is that it is appropriate during milestones, mistakes, mishaps, and mourning. Sex is sacred and God designed this ritual to help helpmates help and heal each other. Many times when I walked through medical issues and was unaware of what was taking place with my body or libido my husband was the one to figure out what was happening. Through research, prayer, and patience we were able to implement noninvasive natural remedies that resulted in a balance in my body and restored beauty in our marriage bed.

If you would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples follow our Solid Marriage Support Facebook page today.

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Gracie Clark of Graced Lettering Co.
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Wisdom from a Widow

 

How many years were you married?

29 years, 1 month, 30 days and 12 hours (10,652 days, 12 hours and 0 minutes)

 

What has hindsight highlighted most to you?

Treasure each and every moment, make a conscious effort to make good memories, celebrate the good, forget and forgive the bad (every day).

 

What wisdom would you like to offer wives?

Treasure the gift God has given you. Don’t exaggerate your husband’s shortcomings and mistakes.  Concentrate on what you fell in love with in the first place. Don’t argue and fight over petty things, life is so short.  Don’t waste time!!! Talk through and work out the hard things, everything can be resolved. Communicate (don’t hold grudges and stop speaking).  Give yourself unselfishly physically, no regrets. Let go of inhibitions and enjoy intimacy to the fullest (forget what you think you look like, he loves it all and forget about the dishes that need to be done, that that doesn’t matter when he’s gone).

 

Marriage is a ministry and every joint supplies . . .

What would you say was your marriage supplied to the Body of Christ?

Dave and I made it a goal to show children what a godly marriage and relationship looked like. We always said we wanted them to know by our example what they could have when they grew up in case they didn’t have that example at home.

The other thing our marriage contributed to the Body is an example of teamwork within marriage. Dave and I were a good team. We loved to work together, learn from each other and appreciated each other’s God-given gifts & talents.

We encouraged others to pursue their dreams and aspirations as much as possible.

 

What has been the hardest thing to adjust to?

After the initial shock of being left a widow so suddenly, the hardest thing has been the littlest things.  Missing his touch, his laughter, his arms around me, our conversations about deep things and silly things, singing together in the car. . . Most of all I miss being able to go to my best friend with my deepest pain, joys, complaints, and tears.

 

What is most apparent to you about your spouse now that they’re gone?

What an amazing person he truly was! What a creative genius he was!  How much he was respected, honored and loved. How much he is missed, not only by his family but by friends and kids he taught and mentored.  How much I need him.

 

If you could change anything about the past what would it be?

I’d lay aside my own “needs” and serve him more. I’d give myself to him more. I’d pay attention to every little detail of our life instead of being overwhelmed by what seemed to be the big stuff.

 

What does being “Beautifully Bound” mean to you?

Marriage is the most unique and profoundly rich of relationships.  In no other relationship do you become “one” with another. It is a love covenant that, if nurtured and treasured can last until your very last breath and beyond.  The love I carry for my husband and the love I know he still holds for me in Heaven is a representation of a beautiful bond that the Lord blessed us with on earth.  I look forward to the day of that Great Reunion!

 

What do you feel like you should have done more of?

As much as we did together, if I could go back I would have MORE fun, adventure, and laughter.  I would make time to be intimate more often! Those are the memories I treasure most now!

 

What do you wish you would have done less?  

Worry.  I wish I would have worried less about money, the future, the kids, ministry and the things that never happened. Worry stole precious time from me and our time together.

To find out more about Jackie’s bittersweet beautiful new beginning subscribe to her blog at therenaissancebelle.com

Smith, Dave & Jackie
Photography by Darla Hall
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Graced Lettering Co.

Beautifully Bound: Back Together

We met the Farris’ at a recent marriage conference. We were blessed by their story and believe you will be enlightened by their wisdom. Thank you, Tracy and Sylvia, for sharing your Beautifully Bound journey of reconciliation with our readers.

How long were you married?

20 years this Dec. 21

 

How long were you separated?

Though we were not physically separated, we were spiritually separated somewhere between 3-5 years.

 

What was the catalyst for you coming back together?

The catalyst that caused us to come back together was the understanding that our marriage isn’t merely for us. But it’s a ministry for us and others.

 

What does it mean to be “Beautifully Bound” to you?

To be committed to the marriage. To God, yourself and your spouse. In the harmony, trials, and challenges, victory and celebration all in the beauty of our heavenly Father God.  

 

What is the most powerful advice you have ever received or most powerful question you pondered during your time of separation?

The most powerful advice was that no one else on earth was created for us but us for each other. Many may catch our attention but no one else can handle us but each other.Farris Quote 2 (1)

 

What was the most difficult thing about being apart? The most difficult part is the actual feeling and experience of disconnection one from another. Knowing that what you have or had is no longer there.

 

What is the hardest part about coming back together?

Trust and Forgiveness. It’s one thing to say we trust and forgive but it’s another to live as you trust and to live as if you’ve been forgiven. Another area that was hard was sex. Each person wants to be validated with the assurance that they are the only King or Queen in the marriage.

 

What advice would you offer couples who are currently in the reconciliation process?

To recommit to God as individuals and as a couple. Focus on,

  • communication
  • compromise
  • capability
  • commitment
  • confession ( love for each other).

Take time out for each other and as an individual. Don’t lose your identity in the other person but allow your individual identities to make one whole identity. When people see you they should see God, you and your spouse. Build each other up with support, encouragement, validation, reassurance, and acceptance.

Farris Quote 2

What advice would you offer couples who are contemplating separation?

We would render this question. One simple word and question, “Why”? Many people focus their emotional decision on the circumstances of the effects of rejection and so forth. But how often do we focus on the “why” we felt rejected? People see the ripples in the water but have no idea why there are ripples in the water.

 

What will you do more intentionally now that you are back together?

Set boundaries. Work on being on the same sheet of music. Address the “why” not the ripple. Prayer, forgiveness, laughter, quality time, commitment, and communication. 

For more marital wisdom connect with the Farris’ by joining their Facebook Page Ambassadors Marriage Session “Inspired to Inspire.”

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Graced Lettering

If you would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples visit our Solid Marriage Support Facebook Page.

Everybody is Not Doing It

In the previous blog, you got a glimpse of what it’s like to go from walking in purity to cultivating passion within marriage. Shifting from the mindset of, “Sex is bad, to sex is good” can be a bit of a challenge. Meet Cameron Rice and Faith Manigan, a pre-married couple who share the struggles and strengths of walking in purity. Learn how to set boundaries, resist temptation and deal with those who have negative perceptions of purity.

In a world that says everybody’s doing it, why did you choose not to?

Cam – To honor God and what His Word says. I believe the best way to lead is by example. In order to show people it is possible you have to give them an example to follow. I wanted to be that for people.

What are some boundaries you’ve set to achieve your goal of saving sex for marriage?

Faith- As trivial as some of these things may sound, all of them were absolutely necessary to my success. No communication with the opposite sex after 9pm (nothing good happens after that time lol), modest attire- I have to protect the eye gates of my brothers in Christ, accountability for trips spent together- I needed someone calling me asking me if I’m okay, or if I’m struggling, someone to encourage me and speak life into me.

Is it challenging for you to save sex for marriage?

Cam – I believe challenging is an understatement. As a male I am a physical being and also, the fact that I have been sexually active before makes the temptation worse. I believe 100% when you ask the Holy Spirit to intervene on your temptation and also having a fiance who does a great job of guarding my heart with how she clothes herself and communicates with me.

Do people ever mock, tease, or get jealous of you for walking in purity?

Faith- Unfortunately very often. It’s not the “cool” thing to not kiss your boyfriend/fiancé.

faith Quote

What advice do you have for someone who feels like they messed up and it’s too late for them?

Cam – I believe it is NEVER too late to walk in purity. I had been active for several years and sure it is easy to say there is “no point” but I believe purity is bigger than me. I believe walking in purity is also about the people around you and people closest to you. It is a way of ministry to others and a testament of how important your relationship with Christ is. In order to walk in purity, the best advice I can give someone is to protect your heart and mind which may include leaving friends behind who think purity is stupid or dumb. His Grace is always sufficient enough for any mistake.

Do you think it will be difficult to shift your mindset from “Sex is bad to sex is good.”?

Faith- It’s honestly something I’m walking out right now. Trying to prepare my mind to switch from protecting my body. To understand that my body is soon to be his just as much my own. I keep reminding myself, it’s worship and it’s a privilege!

What is something you would like to say to the person who is feeling pressured to have sex?

Cam – Change your environment. Change your thoughts. I realized early on, one of the main reason for having sex was to impress my “friends.” As a man, sex can turn into a prideful accomplishment, “Yeah I am the man because I am active with several women.” A real man treats one woman with honor, dignity, and respect. The pressure comes from your friends and what they value. Our thoughts are often influenced by our closest friends. So change your circle and get in community with people who are chasing the same goal and value purity just as much as you. You need people to hold you accountable.

Share your favorite book about purity.

Faith- as cliche as it is, The Bible is my favorite book about purity. No better book can tell me who I am and who I’m called to be other than the Bible. Knowing who I am and whose I am encouraged my purity walk. It gave me my standard.

Share your favorite quote about purity.

Cam – If 95% of people are doing it, then it is average. Keep it simple don’t be average.

Cam Quote

Share your favorite couple that has walked in purity. (Famous or Friend)

Faith- Julie and Ben Bundren, they’re getting married April 11, 2019! She was my go-to person for questions, accountability, reassurance that we could walk this out correctly, and so much more. Their example helped and encouraged me!

On November 23, 2018, “Black Friday” Cam, surrounded by family and friends, surprised Faith with a romantic proposal in downtown Huntsville’s Big Spring Park. She said “YES!”

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Photography by Ron Corn

Connect with Cameron Rice and Faith Manigan on Instagram.

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Graced Lettering Co.

If you would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples visit our Solid Marriage Support Facebook Page.

Leave and Cleave “Your New Identity”

A big part of the transition of marriage involves developing a new identity. Not like, I’m going to be Jada and you’re going to be Will. But more like, though I love my family, YOU are now my family. This takes some obvious reframing when it comes to things like how you spend holidays and which traditions you will uphold. But I believe there is an internal reframing that must occur also; like, “Are your parents REALLY my parents? Will your siblings ever feel like MY siblings? Will you be friends with my best friend?”

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

Leaving and cleaving can be tricky. Leaving implies us literally leaving our parents, our first source of love. And cleaving instructs us to be joined together “as one” with our spouse, someone we are learning how to love. Being joined with our spouse says, “Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. Leave your peeps, embrace mine, but cling to me so we can be one. I’ll embrace your family as my own and you will embrace mine as yours.” To mesh with one’s family it is important to spend time with the family. But in order to get to know your spouse, it’s important to spend time apart from others so you can acclimate as husband and wife and develop your new identity as a couple. It can almost feel like a mixed message.

Is Genesis 2:24 saying, “Separate (from your family), connect (as a couple) and build your own family? If so, what do familial relationships look like now? What if both Mother in-laws wish to host Christmas dinner and it’s equally important to husband and wife. Do you decline both invitations and celebrate alone or do you explain to both sets of parents that you’ll be alternating holidays? Both those suggestions are a fair compromise, but what is really taking place in your heart while making such decisions? Are you complying to appear like you’re a good sport, while internally resenting everybody, feeling like you’re taking one for the team? As you adjust to this new idea of becoming one with your spouse you may at times feel like you are losing your own identity in the process.

You can either view your circumstance like you are losing your identity or gaining a new one.  I’ve been married for 19 years now and although I have a healthy marriage, I just realized this year that when I chose to leave, I did not choose to cleave. My bank account, zip code, dwelling, and even my last name changed but deep within, there were hidden things that remained the same. One of which was, my Dad was my Dad. Although my Father-in-Law is a man in which I have boundless respect and honor for, he was not my Dad. I have used so many tactics over the last two decades to keep from calling him “Dad,” it’s really quite ridiculous. He’s been affectionately called, “Mr. Poplar, Grandpa, Melvin Poplar Sr. My Father-in-Law.” But not until 3 weeks ago did I refer to him as “Dad.” That might seem trivial to some, but to me it was huge. It was hard, but I did it, and I’m glad I did! (Even though it was in a text message. I felt a significant shift.)

I met my husband when I was 16. My Daddy died 9 years before. A lot takes place in a girl’s life between the ages of 7 and 16, but one thing that didn’t change for me was that I was a Daddy’s girl at heart. I was so young that my “Daddy” was just that, “Daddy.” He died before I ever reached the stage of even referring to him as “Dad.” I’m 40 something and in my mind, my Dad is still my “Daddy.” I think the little girl inside of me was not willing to relinquish the space in my heart that was reserved for my Daddy. Rather than seeing how God gave me another Father figure, the little girl inside of me felt like if I embraced my husband’s Dad, then I would be letting go of my own. Letting go of his legacy, his love, and his life.

It never dawned on me that God gave me a new family and Father so that I could receive love, embrace legacy, and celebrate life. Grief kept me from cleaving to my husband’s family, and grief is what drove me to embrace them as my own. After my Daddy died we stayed in touch with our local relatives, but we had no contact from his family in his State of origin. My Dad was the youngest of my grandfather’s children and I’m the youngest of my siblings. I have now lived in that State for the last 16 years and as we travel throughout Alabama I would often grieve the thought that I could have family in the cities we were in and not even know who they were.

I know this is going to sound all the way crazy, but the movie Black Panther heightened this grief all the more. I identified more with the supervillain, Erik Killmonger, as I felt displaced from my people and jealous of my husband’s rich cultural heritage. His family’s genealogy made me jealous because I could not trace my history past my grandfather. Part of me would take pride in the fact that my children gained this wonderful legacy, but the other part of me felt discouraged and displaced and my heart ached for something deeper.

The day after calling my Father-in-law Dad and deciding my husband’s history was my own and his people were my people, I logged on to Facebook and saw where my first cousin had posted an obituary that her brother found on a genealogy site. The person who had passed was “James Burton Sr.” from Montgomery Alabama. I started combing through the names of his family members, entering them into the Facebook search bar and noticed that I had mutual friends with one of the women that I found. I contacted that friend via text and within hours I was on the phone with my newfound family member. It was surreal. Her father who had just passed away days prior was my grandfather’s nephew. To think all these years had gone by of me fearing that cleaving to my husband’s family would lead to loss and it led to such great gain.

Is there an area in your life in which you know you either need to leave (your family) or cleave (to your spouse)? Your circumstance might be totally different from mine but you are keenly aware that there is something that you’ve been holding back? You could be hindering the oneness God has designed for you and your spouse to experience.

Parents aren’t the only ones you may have to leave. Before marriage, you may have had friends with the opposite sex. Within marriage, it’s important to leave those friendships and foster friendship with your spouse. Your spouse should be your best friend. So in some cases, even BFFs have to renegotiate the terms of their friendship. Friendship is important, but being friends with your spouse needs to take priority. I’m not saying you can’t cultivate friendship with others, I’m just saying you can’t really fully connect with your spouse if your focus is always connecting with others.

You are no longer Single, so why live like a Single person? If you are a couple, then it’s important to leave behind Single mindsets. This isn’t something you have to announce to others, it’s an internal shift that takes place within that will be reflected in your priorities. My prayer for you is that you release what needs to be let go of so you can embrace that which will cause you to cling to your spouse. Your new identity doesn’t have to erase who you were it should enhance who you are becoming. 

 

SMS New Identity

What are some areas in which couples generally struggle when it comes to leaving and cleaving?

Have you found yourself in an identity crisis at any point along your marriage journey?

If you would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples visit our Solid Marriage Support Facebook Page.

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Real Love

Our oldest daughter recently had the pleasure of attending the 35th Annual Fun-Set Social and Charity Club Beautillion Ball. She was an escort for a friend who was a beau in the ball. The Beautillion season highlights the success of young African American males.  Beaus attend seminars with a focus on spiritual, social, educational and economic growth. The annual Beautillion Ball is a culmination of educational activities and fun.

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We were honored for her to be invited, but we were even more excited to get to attend with her. My husband is a hardcore helicopter parent, so having a valid reason to be present was right up his alley. We have a great rapport with the young man who invited her and we’ve been friends with his family for over a decade. But she’s his baby girl, and he delighted in being right by her side. The way my husband assisted our daughter with her dress, watched her on the dance floor and pulled out her chair when she would sit reminded me of so many of the reasons I fell in love with him.

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Not only did Trinity look like a princess she was treated like one by both her date and her dad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently someone heard me and my husband’s testimony of secondary virginity and thought it wasn’t “real”. They weren’t implying that it was too fanciful. They were insinuating that it wasn’t “real” like, “BIG DEAL, who cares that you had sex before marriage and chose to practice abstinence while you were pregnant.” And all I could think of was, “God cares.”

Sometimes when people say things like, “I’m just being real.” What they really mean is that they are being “real” carnal. If people can’t receive from you because they don’t perceive you as being “real” don’t compromise your values, lower your standards, or remove healthy boundaries because of their opinion. The truth is, they may have a problem with your testimony because it highlights that God is real. It’s their brokenness that keeps them from celebrating how God’s REAL love has made you whole.

 

 

Real Love

 

He treats me like a princess because I’m a daughter of the King.

There’s no need for me to be stressed because I am his Good Thing.

He’s my Knight in Shining Armor the one who makes me brave.

You might wonder how he does it, it’s all because he’s Saved.

When a man is in love with The Lover of his Soul,

His love won’t leave you broken, it will only make you whole.

He can’t see you as royalty if he doesn’t seek the King.

If he does not honor God he won’t know you are a Queen.

Don’t settle for a boy when you can have a Prince.

Set your standards high and do not straddle the fence.

Boundaries keep you safe, they prevent you from a fall.

Your body is a temple protect the palace walls.

Far above rubies, more precious than silver and gold.

Why settle for lust filled fragments when real love can make you whole?

© Toya Poplar 2016

 

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Photography by Tim Gentry

If you want to hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” Keep doing well and stay faithful to God’s Word.

Marriage is our ministry but purity will always be our passion. If you ever need someone to share the message of how powerful purity is, connect with us. We believe that purity empowers you to plan your future without looking back at your past. And we know from experience that it’s never too late to wait.

Keep Christ First

After stating “It’s not good for man to be alone,” God created a wife as a helper for her husband. Marriage is not only for man’s accompaniment. It is also an illustration of Christ and the Church. Christ’s love and sacrifice for His bride is the greatest example of how a husband should love, cherish, and be one with his wife. Figuring out how to live as one can at times be difficult to understand, so it is vitally important to keep Christ first. A marriage built on Christ is formed on a solid foundation that can withstand the storms of life.

When we remain rooted in God’s Word and refuse to let our hearts harden, our marriages not only reap rewards but reflects Christ’s unfailing love. If God is love and love never fails, neither should your marriage. Married Christians should, in fact, be experts in the department of forgiveness and reconciliation. Marriage is a relationship where we gain lots of practice in the area of forgiving which helps us understand God’s heart towards humanity. The thought that you can “so love” someone that you sacrifice your comfort for their care is an enigma. And apart from Christ’s example of the ultimate sacrifice, it makes very little sense.

Gary Thomas’ book Sacred Marriage, poses the question, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy rather than to make us happy.” Many times we enter into marriage thinking that it is our spouse’s job to make us happy, when in reality, God could be using your spouse to make you holy. Holiness is not always fun, but it will always be right. Happiness is not always holy and may cause us to walk down an erroneous path. Whether our lives are overflowing with happiness or overwhelmed by woes, keeping Christ first is the way to overcome.

 

Keep Christ First white

To build your marriage on a solid foundation work through the questions below with your spouse.

1.  Read Psalm 1:1-3  & Matthew 7:24-27, what do roots and rocks have in common?

2.  What happens when we confess our faults to our spouse?  Define “avail.

3. Read Proverbs 3:27, are you guilty of withholding good from your spouse?

4. What are some areas in which you can serve your spouse? Make a list in your phone so you can refer to it often.

5. When was the last time you and your spouse studied God’s word? Start with the bonus scriptures above. Ephesians 5:31-33 & I Corinthians 13:4-8. What spoke to your heart?

 

If you would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples visit our Solid Marriage Support Facebook Page.

Date Night Ideas

Why date night? Because you both work hard and deserve to play hard.  Date night is a scheduled break to keep your lines of communication from breaking down. It’s a time to dream, plan, and create together. Date night is a way of saying, “You are a priority to me.” Date night can be fun, productive, romantic, or silly. But being intentional about date night is a serious matter. Why date night? Why work? Why gym? Why chores? Because they are all important to the overall health of your marriage and family.

Date nights serve several purposes but one that is most important is fostering a feeling of lasting love. Being deliberate about date night is a simple way to invest in your marriage that yields great reward. Dating your spouse is a wonderful way to decompress from stress and strengthen your commitment to one another. Date nights give you something to look forward to and are a great way to share new experiences with your spouse. Below are a few date night ideas.

 

Edit Date Night Ideas

If you don’t currently have a weekly date night here’s your chance. Grab your spouse and follow the steps below.

  1. Agree on a night of the week or day of the month to have a standing date night. 
  2. If you have small children, select another couple you could swap date nights with. (If you don’t have small children, pay it forward by offering to babysit so a couple can have a standing date night.)
  3. Create a plan by listing restaurants, local activities, and landmarks that interest you. Take turns with your spouse. Keep it handy so you are never at a loss for things to do.
  4.  Create a date night budget.
  5.  Ready, set, DATE! Be READY on time. SET boundaries with technology. (Take your date night selfie but wait to post. That way you can focus on being present and loving your spouse well.) DATE keep your word. Bear in mind that everything else you do in life like work, fitness, church activities, get done because they are standing activities. Date night is equally important.

What are some of your favorite date night ideas? Please share in the comment section below.

One of our favorites is playing the “Ungame for Couples” while waiting for dinner at a restaurant. It’s a non-competitive game that encourages listening.

 

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How to Improve Communication in Marriage

 

Sound familiar?

“Good Morning Babe, Thanks for doing a great job at falling asleep as I poured my heart out to you last night.”

“GOOD MORNING MY LOVE, OH HOW I ENJOY WAKING UP TO YOUR SARCASTIC TEXT MESSAGES. I GUESS NOW WE’RE EVEN SINCE YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME.”

“See, there you go, always taking stuff out of context and making it about you.”

“I WOULD MAKE IT ABOUT YOU BUT YOU ARE ALWAYS ON YOUR PHONE!!!”

“Maybe I would get off my phone if you would stop binge-watching crap on Netflix.”

“GOTTA FIND SOME WAY TO ENTERTAIN MYSELF. IT’S BETTER THAN LISTENING TO NAGGING AND YELLING!”

“I’ll stop yelling in real life when you STOP YELLING IN TEXT MESSAGES & EMAILS.”

“YOU’RE SO PETTY.”

“I learned from the best.”

Ouch.

How we speak to our spouse is extremely important. As you can see from the example above things can get messy real fast. What assumptions would you make about this couple? Would you think they just met or have been married for a while? Generally, communication goes well in the beginning stages of a relationship. All those warm fuzzies we get when we are getting to know each other make us feel connected. Over time familiarity starts to breed contempt, and we find ourselves taking cheap shots at someone we once handled with care.

When you are seeking to grow close you care about how you come across. This kind of caring creates a connection. And if you want that connection to be sustained you maintain a level of sensitivity in your correspondence. Connection creates an openness and sense of oneness. But somewhere along the way we get wounded, feel disrespected, or maybe even rejected and we start to withdraw. When we stop making consistent deposits of consideration and kindness our connection starts to break down and so does our communication.

I don’t want to hand you a checklist of what to do, or a script on what to say to improve your communication. I want to instead prompt you to ponder what is taking place in your heart. The Bible tells us, “. . . Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) The greatest reflection of what’s going on in your heart is what’s coming out of your mouth. Take our couple above. If you revisit their correspondence can you gauge from the tone of their text messages what might be taking place in their hearts?

Communication techniques are fine for therapy sessions and fun activities to participate in at marriage conferences but in the heat of an argument, they can make a person feel like a pawn in their partner’s game. Ancient wisdom says, start with the heart. Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. Proverbs 4:24 & 25 (NLT) If you care about someone you naturally want to hear what they have to say. If you want to connect you will be slow to speak so that you can choose your words wisely. And if your ultimate goal is oneness you will won’t be so hasty to get offended. Rather than jumping to conclusions you will seek to gain an understanding.

Communication White 2018

I will offer you a list but not for the purpose of pointing your finger at your spouse. The following 5 suggestions are for YOU to be reminded that whether our communication is non-verbal, verbal, or written if we maintain a heart connection healthy communication will follow.

  1. Avoid using terminal language. Never say “never.” Don’t always use “always.” (Apologize for the use of terminal language in the past.)
  2. Be intentional. Give your spouse your undivided attention. List some areas in which you desire to improve your non-verbal communication skills with your spouse.
  3. Check your tone to preserve your home. Reflect and repent for any use of improper tones in the past. Write down Proverbs 15:1, post it in a public place in your home.
  4. Seek to deposit, not withdraw. Share 3 things you love about your spouse with your spouse. Sometimes we tell others what we appreciate about our mate and fail to tell them personally.
  5. Create a connection, avoid rejection! Look each other in the eye for at least 2 minutes daily. (Studies show that passionate eye contact coupled with stimulating conversation causes people to fall in love.)

Solid Marriage Support Proverbs 15 1

 

If you are tired of communicating about bills, work schedules and household chores with your spouse try discussing 36 Questions that lead to Love or Create a Closer Connection

Click the link above. It should take you about 1 hour to complete all 36 questions. It’s the perfect activity for a date night.

For more tips and tools like this connect with us on Facebook.

 

 

Boundaries in Marriage

Solid Marriage Support2

On December 17, 2018, my husband and I will celebrate 19 years of marriage. It blows me away that we have now been married for longer than we had been alive when we met. As a high school junior and senior we became besties. 25 years later we are still fostering friendship. We’ve made it our tradition to not just celebrate our anniversary, but to celebrate the covenant of marriage.

In honor of our anniversary, we use to host marriage enrichment events called “Covenant Parties.” A Covenant Party was a reception like evening filled with sharing, dancing, dining, communication games, and a vow renewal ceremony. As much as it seemed special when we first began hosting, with each passing year, the word “covenant” sounds more and more antiquated. The more old school it may sound to the masses the more meaningful it becomes to me. Modernization might be great for marketing but often diminishes meanings that we need to be reminded of.

There’s a scripture in Proverbs that says,

“Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.” (22:28 NKJV)

This is referring to land markers which were pretty important in biblical times. A stone indicated where your property ended and where your neighbor’s started. Removing a landmark was a way of stealing property. Can you imagine what it would feel like if your neighbor changed your property line? The results could be costly and your rapport with your neighbor would be changed forever. When sacred concepts lose their meaning, I believe the enemy gains ground, and we lose territory.

Take notice of the two signs below.

PrivateProperty

publicEntrance2

There is a big difference between private property and a public park. Private property implies that the land belongs to someone, and they have reserved it for their own private use. Public access indicates that the area is open to the public. In marriage, It is just as important for husbands and wives to have clear boundaries as it is for a landowner to have proper signage posted. My husband and I set clear boundaries early on in our relationship and the more words like “covenant” seem to have lost their meaning the more meaningful words like “boundaries” have become to us. Boundaries preserve what is good and protect from what is toxic. Affairs are not intentional, but being intentional about setting healthy boundaries can help safeguard you against an affair.

Boundaries front 2018

Early on in our marriage one of our favorite couples asked us an interesting question. They said, “Do you all love each other enough to share if you ever found yourself having feelings for someone else?” That question led to us to do 3 key things if we ever found ourselves feeling chemistry with someone other than our spouse.

  • See it

  • Say it

  • Be set free

When we confess our faults and feelings to our spouse we can expose the enemy and safeguard our marriage against temptation. Below are a few questions you and your spouse can answer to aid you in the process of setting healthy boundaries in the 5 highlighted categories. (Think of preferences, pet peeves, pitfalls, and triggers in the following areas.)

1.  What boundaries would you like to see your spouse have at work?

2. What boundaries would you like to enforce amongst friends?

3. What are some ways to set physical boundaries?

4. What are some necessary emotional boundaries? (Guard your heart.)

5. What are some boundaries to implement with strangers?

This year we will celebrate our covenant by sharing tips, tools, and testimonies that will help you build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love and connect with other couples. We hope you find this information useful. If you like it share it with your friends and invite them to connect with us on Facebook