Revisit Your Vows 18 Questions for you and your spouse

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Dear Reader,

Wow, yesterday was the day we said, “I do.” 18 years ago. The last 18 years have flown by seemingly as fast as the last 18 days. On a cold day in 1999, we pulled into the parking lot of the Davidson County Courthouse, a few minutes before close and said to one another, “Divorce is not an option.” Over and over we said those words like actors determined to memorize their lines. We stood before the judge as 2 starry-eyed college students and walked away one because of the words we recited.

Words are mighty enough to make 2 become 1 and formidable enough to rip an entire family apart. It’s hard to imagine that the same mouth that kisses a bride and declares “til death do us part” can also decree,

“I want to separate, disconnect, divide, dissociate, detach, isolate, and alienate myself from you.”

Words have the power to build us up one minute and break us down the next. Over the last 18 days, we have revisited our vows in hopes that some discouraged couple will be diverted from divorce. We are well aware that the same mouth that declared, “I do.” Can decide, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

In a world in which people are getting divorced faster than you can plan a wedding, we thought the greatest anniversary gift we could offer is hope. If you are hoping to be reconciled go and re-read about the Boddie’s, McDonalds, Moores, Waddells, or Carters. If you are facing a tough battle with sickness, check out The Smiths, Friths, Friends, Faughts, Wilsons, Epps, Williams, Shocklees, Herseys or Popes. Our prayer is that you can revisit your vows, glean from our victories, and grow from our mistakes.

As we reviewed the statistics for each blog, we realized that the couples who may have once felt like they messed up their story received the highest number of views. Keep that in mind along your marriage journey. Couples who may have once been forgotten are hailed heroes when they choose forgiveness.

To every couple who shared your story, we honor you. To every reader who carved out time to read and share our words on social media, we value you. To every single person in search of real love, you are in the right place to hear from real couples, who have faced real issues and overcame by the grace of a real God. Thank you for joining us on this journey!

Marriage is work, but it is well worth it. Here’s to 18 years!

 

Melvin & Toya Poplar

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Trivia: The first subscriber to answer our “Revisiting Our Vows” trivia question will win an autographed copy of Patricia & Willie Moore Jr.s book, “Happily After All.”

(Note only subscribers are eligible to win. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click follow to subscribe)

*Tell us how many years total have all the couples in this series been married?

We are currently in the Bahamas celebrating our anniversary. Your comments will be approved and prize will be awarded upon our return, December 22, 2017

Thanks for your patience and participation!

 

Questioning Your Vows

(18 questions, 18 couples, 18 days)

 

I, [name], take you [name], to be my [husband/wife], to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

 

LADIES FIRST (Answer questions 1-11, 17 & 18)

  1. What trait does your husband “HAVE” that makes him uniquely yours? (Tendency, quality, quirk).

 

  1. In 3 words describe what takes place on the inside when your husband HOLDs you?

 

  1. What is something both you and your husband would benefit from doing BETTER in your marriage?

 

  1. What do you consider the WORST year of your marriage? If you don’t mind, tell us about it.

 

  1. In what area do you consider your marriage RICH in?

   Laughter

   Long-suffering

   Friendship

   Understanding

   Faith

   Intimacy

   All the above

   Fill in the blank _________________

 

  1. What happens when there is POOR communication between you and your husband?

 

  1. Talk about a time in which you walked through SICKNESS in your marriage. Whether it was caring for your husband/parents/grandparents/in-laws/children/grandchildren, etc.

 

  1. How do you maintain the HEALTH of your marriage?

 

  1. How is your perception of LOVE different after marriage than it was before you married?

 

  1. “CHERISH” means “to build up.” How does your spouse build you up?

 

  1. (With DEATH being the only way we part…)Talk about how the thought of death makes you appreciate your spouse.

 

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ADVICE FROM HUSBANDS (Men answer 12,13, 14, 15, 16 & 18)

Share words of advice from the categories below.

 

  1. Something OLD School (Old school advice)
  2. Something NEW School (New School Advice)
  3. Something BORROWED (Marriage quote or advice that impacted you strongly.)
  4. Something BLUE (Something extra just for fun!)

 

  1. What is a question you would like for your wife to answer?
  2. What is a question you would like for your husband to answer?

 

  1. FOR THE COUPLE

If you had the chance to do it all over again what would you do differently?

 

FOR THE READER

(of the blog post)

 

What question would you like to ask this couple?

 

     CHECKLIST

  1. Attach a current photo.
  2. Attach an image of you on your wedding day.
  3. Let me know how many years you’ve been married.
  4. Email responses to ToyaPoplar@gmail.com to be considered for our “Couple of the Quarter.”

 

Thanks so much for your time and transparency!

Be sure to visit Marriage More Abundantly on facebook so that you can join us for a FUN night or bi-monthly marriage workshop.

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Melvin & Toya Poplar Revisit Their Vows

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To Have

Though he is a rapper and an alpha male, Toya sees her husband Melvin as a nerdy guy who talks to himself. He is always “dadgineering” some brilliant new idea. He has a particular way that he prefers things to be done. She is well aware that his idiosyncrasies would drive most women crazy but she thinks they’re cute and finds herself more attracted to him because of he of his uniqueness. His quirks confirm that Melvin Poplar Jr. is the perfect guy for her.

 

To Hold

These high school and college sweethearts have been married now for 18 years.  When Melvin holds Toya in his arms she says she experiences healing from life’s hurts, safety from life’s harms, and comfort from life’s crazy. Toya considers herself to be a good wife but is always seeking to be a better helpmeet. One area she would like to “do better in” is to not take any phone calls when he is home. Life is short and time is precious. The Poplars want their home to be a sacred space for them to reconnect, recalibrate, and renew their love for one another, daily.

 

For Better or for Worse

“2011 was the worst year of our marriage, but the best year for our family. It was the year we opened our home and heart to adoption,” said Toya. Their boys are a blessing, but meeting their needs the first year was the heaviest burden they had ever carried. Imagine adopting a 1, 2, and 3, year old, when you already have 3 children ages 9, 11, and 13. Melvin started working a second job to offset adoption expenses. So his wife recalls that even when he was present, he was a “sleep-deprived” version of himself. Additionally, he was renovating their kitchen and if you’ve ever renovated a kitchen, you can only imagine how stressful that must’ve been for a family of 8. Their boys came to live with them in September. By November 11, Toya’s doctor told her she was a “walking heart attack.”

 

For Richer

The Poplars admit that their marriage is rich in laughter, long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, and forgiveness. Some of the ways they maintain the health of their marriage is through having a date night every Tuesday. One of their favorite marriage maintenance routines is attending monthly marriage workshops with a local group called, Marriage More Abundantly. They try their best to both staycation (local hotel stays) and vacation often. They believe that communication is essential to maintaining the health of a marriage. The Poplars are aware that health is wealth so they try to eat pretty clean, workout often, play in the yard with their kids, go hiking, dance, reminisce, occasionally watch TV, and pray together daily.

For Poorer

When there is poor communication between this couple before they do anything they pray first and ask God to keep the enemy from twisting their words. Then they revisit everything that led up to the communication breakdown… Thoroughly discussing how and when things went awry so they can reconcile and reconnect.

 

Through Sickness and In Health

The Poplars have been through a lot. Toya has had some surgeries and had to overcome a few health concerns over the years. In 2010 she had double foot surgery. Her husband literally and figuratively carried her for 6 weeks. Imagine being totally dependent on someone for all your basic needs. He did everything from going to the bathroom to assisting her with bathing. The way he cared for her was unlike anything she had ever witnessed. She saw the perfect picture of what it looks like for a husband to love his wife like Christ loves His bride.

 

To Love

Before they were married Toya had fanciful ideas of love and marriage. In high school and college, they had a long distance relationship so much of their time spent together was over vacations and holidays. In Toya’s mind, she thought marriage would consist of constant surprises, continual romance, and perpetual fun. In hindsight, she sees that as a conditional perception of love. She now knows that love is far more in-depth than that. She says, “Love is more like everything around you is going wrong but you know somehow, someway that everything is going to be all right.”

 

To Cherish

The word “cherish” means to build up. Melvin builds his wife up by telling her she’s smart when she feels stupid, convincing her that she is strong when the enemy amplifies her weakness and seeing her as lovely when she feels like a hot mess. When doubt fills her heart and she is drowning in darkness, her husband sees her light and reminds her that she is enough. Each day he sends their family text messages that contain scripture and an encouraging word. Each album he has recorded contains a song that he has dedicated to his wife. Every morning he prays for her and each night he holds her close. She says, “His love lifts me. Daily he works hard to support our family so I don’t have to.”

 

Til Death Do Us Part

“The thought of death makes me appreciate how Melvin pours out his life for our family. Our oldest son recently made the statement, “Dad is the glue that holds us all together. If something happened to him, I don’t know what we would do.”” Toya shares, the same sentiments as their 19-year-old son. The thought of death motivates her to savor every second in her husband’s presence and honor him so strongly that he would love her long after she is gone.

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Something Old Something New

Mr. Poplar’s old-school advice to husbands is, “If mommy is happy, everyone is happy.” And likewise the inverse… “If mommy is unhappy everyone is unhappy.” When asked to share some new school advice on marriage Melvin simply states, “happy wife, happy life.” One of the most endearing aspects of The Poplar’s relationship is that they met so young (16 & 17 years old)  they have shared many first time experiences. Melvin advises young couples is to enjoy their “firsts” together.

 

Something Borrowed Something Blue

A marriage quote that has greatly impacted Melvin over the years is “try to out serve one another.” His primary love language is acts of service so this advice is something he practices daily. When asked, “What is a question you would like for your husband to answer?” Toya’s response was, “What do you think of when you see me, from across the room?” When Melvin was asked, “What question would you like for your wife to answer?” He declined to answer because he said his response was too X-rated. After 18 years the Poplars are still going strong. If they had the chance to do it all over again Melvin says, he wouldn’t change a thing. Toya shares that she would want to, “Watch more sunrises and sunsets together.”

 

For the reader: If you have a comment, compliment, or question for us please share in the comment section below.

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Ali & Dionne Carter Revisit Their Vows

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To Have and To Hold
The characteristic that makes Dionne’s husband Ali uniquely hers is the fact that he is not afraid to unapologetically be himself. “Ali is so put together and clean cut in appearance, but he can get real Southside Chicago if he has to, and still be totally earthy and laid back. I love that balance.”

When prompted to use 3 words to describe what takes place when she is in her husband’s arms she confidently responds, “I feel protected.

For Better or for Worse

One of the areas that the Carters admit they could do better is by being more attentive to one another’s unique needs. They would like to develop a deep understanding and ability to nurture those things for one another.

2016, was the worst year of the Carters marriage. “Last year we seriously considered divorce. It was horrible for me and the children.” Dionne explained. “It’s still hard sometimes to talk about. There are still triggers. It sometimes still feels like a fresh wound. She admits that taking the time to pause and ponder the interview questions was tough. “In 2016, we stop being on the same team.”
For Richer or for Poorer

The Carters consider their marriage to be rich in laughter, long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, and support. When there is poor communication between them, Dionne says, “Everything falls apart, and we lose sight of being on the same team.”

Through Sickness and in Health

In response to the question of how sickness has impacted their marriage Dionne shares, “I have horrible pregnancies. Like straight- shut down, hermit, out-of-commission, ill. I have to say, my husband has always stepped up and took care of me and our family when I physically and mentally was just completely unavailable.”

The Carters have grown in the area of maintaining their marriage. “We’re learning to actively listen. And to be more attentive, yielding to one another.”

To Love & to Cherish

Dionne’s current perception of love is different now than it was before she married. “I once thought that love was the only required ingredient for a lasting marriage. Love is not just about the fairy tale and the warm fuzzy stuff. Love is patience, support, physical touch, perseverance, uncomfortable conversations, growing pains, and brokenness. The willingness to continue to love in spite of all that.” Ali builds his wife up by being her biggest cheerleader. “He challenges me to be my best self. Reminds me that I’m dope, all the time…”
Til Death Do Us Part

When Mrs. Carter was asked how the thought of death makes her appreciate her spouse she shares, “The thought of physically losing my husband makes me sad and ill. His presence is so big and robust. There would truly be a great void in my life. There are days when I wouldn’t even eat if it weren’t for my husband. I am so grateful for everything he brings to my life and our family. Most of the time, I can think out loud with him, and that’s a blessing.”

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    Something Old Something New

    Mr. Carter’s old school advice is, “If you want to be the man, then be the man.” (The marriage begins and ends with you.) His new school advice is, “Communication before marriage is key (Know her do’s and don’ts and her will and won’ts.)

    Example:

    She never wants to own a big dog. She never wants to live in a high rise.
    She is allergic to cats.
    She doesn’t like cold weather.
    She hates washing dishes.
    She wants to be a stay at home mom, etc…”

Something Borrowed Something Blue

Mr. Carter believes that the popular phrase “Happy wife, Happy Life” is some “BS” he feels that the complexities of marriage can’t be reduced to such a trite expression. “The key to a successful marriage is not that simple.”
Ali goes on to say, “The marriage started with the two of you and it will end with the two of you.”

In response to the question “If you had the chance to do it all over again, what would you do differently?” Dionne shares, “I would take more time to put us first before the children came. To just nurture and further explore the man, the individual. Take the opportunity to have him all to myself a little longer. We began our relationship with children. That’s the only thing I would have wanted more of because everything else we’ve been through has gotten us here today. I have a greater respect, and appreciation for my husband and myself as a woman and wife because of what we’ve overcome.  Ali shares, “I would honestly have waited a little longer to try and get more established career wise so that we were more stable financially.”

For the reader:
If you have a question, comment, or compliment for this couple, please share in the comment section below.

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Emanuel & Karol Waddell Revisit Their Vows

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To Have and To Hold

The characteristic that makes Karol’s husband Emanuel uniquely hers is,”His unwavering devotion to us and his quirky sense of humor.” When Karol is in her husband’s arms, she feels calm and lovingly reassured. 

For Better or For Worse

The Waddells share that if there is an area they could benefit from doing better in their marriage, it would be communication.  “While our ability to effectively communicate our needs and wants to each other has improved considerably over the years, there is always room for improvement.  When asked about the worst year of their marriage, Karol responds, “I can’t honestly pinpoint a worst year. We’ve had challenging seasons in our marriage that eroded our trust in one another and caused us to question our commitment to the relationship. When faced with the decision of what our next step would be as a couple, we both chose to get real with ourselves and each other about how we got to that place and rededicated ourselves to the relationship. It took a lot of time, patience, determination and honest dialogue to rebuild the lost trust and repair the marriage slowly.”

For Richer or For Poorer

Karol and Emanuel have a marriage that is rich in long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, and intention. When there is poor communication between the two of them, they become disconnected and distant. We stop being friends and lovers and become inconvenient roommates.”

Through Sickness and in Health

When asked to share about sickness Karol shares, “Three years ago, I had surgery and was in bed for two months. I appreciate the way my husband always steps up to take care of me and the house when I am out of commission. However, another sickness fueled by poor communication was threatening our marriage during this time, and we ended up having several soul-searching conversations to start healing our marriage as my body healed.”

The Waddells maintain the health of their marriage through remembering that marriage is 100/100, not 50/50. “Maintaining a healthy marriage requires a 100% commitment by both parties. That doesn’t mean that both parties give an A+ effort everyday. It does mean that each person makes an effort; recognizes and appreciates the spouse’s efforts; picks up each other’s slack; apologizes when they come up short, and does better next time. It’s also important that each person practices good self-care. This makes it easier to be at your best for each other.” 

To Love and to Cherish

Before marriage, Karol thought love had defined rules and boundaries. “I now understand that true LOVE is dynamic and infinite. Our LOVE grows and deepens as we grow in our understanding, trust, and appreciation of each other.

Emanuel cherishes his wife by doing little things like making sure she eats breakfast; bringing home her favorite candy bar, or turning on the heater in the bedroom so it will be warm when she goes to bed. “It’s the simple acts of kindness that remind me that he is invested in our love and that my health, well-being, and comfort are important to him.”

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Til Death Do Us Part

When asked how does the thought of death make her appreciate her spouse Karol responds, “I am very fortunate to have a loving husband who gives me his best everyday. When I think about EVERYTHING he does for me and our family and the fact that death will separate us one day, I’m reminded to be more attentive and intentional about making sure he knows how grateful I am for him. And I thank God, that he chose, and continues to choose, me “to have and to hold until death do us part”!”

Something Old Something New

Some old school advice that has greatly impacted Emanuel is, “There is always an opportunity for growth. Growth occurs individually and as a couple.” When asked to share some new school advice Emanuel responded, There is nothing new under the sun. Simply because something is shiny and glittery does not mean it is new. In many instances only the packaging is different. Marriage is about patience, persistence, more patience, and more persistence. “

Something Borrowed Something Blue

Emanuel’s borrowed advice is a quote by Alexander Pope, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” His bonus advice for husbands is, “Always start with the man in the mirror” When asked to offer a question to ask his wife Emanuel responded, “Hopefully, there are no questions unasked.” Karol’s question for her husband that she feels all spouses should ask periodically is, ” “Are you happy?” It’s very important to KNOW –not assume– that both are spouses are comfortable and happy in the marriage regardless of what anyone else says or thinks.” When asked if they had the chance to do it all over again would they the Waddells shared that they would, “Be deliberate and intentional about engaging in meaningful conversation and keeping the romance alive on a more consistent basis.”

For the reader: If you have a question, comment, or compliment for The Waddells please feel free to share in the comment section below.

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Scott & Shelton Oakley Hersey Revisit Their Vows

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To Have and to Hold

The quality that Scott has that makes him exclusively hers is his attentiveness. She describes him as having a unique blend of serious and silly.  “Scott is consistently attentive to me and to others, always looking for small ways to serve that most people might never notice.”When Shelton is in Scott’s arms, she feels beloved, home, and seen.

For Better or for Worse

One of the areas that Scott and Shelton feel they can do better in their marriage is through not reacting emotionally to the other’s state of being. “When one of us is sad, frustrated, tired, or insecure, the other can tend to mirror the same emotion. It has been something we honestly weren’t aware of at the start of our marriage and sometimes occasionally only saw it as a strength.” They’ve discovered that there are times in which this tendency is a good thing–when it promotes empathy and sensitivity. “Often times, however, this lack of emotional detachment has kept us from many healthy paths including seeking and speaking truth about who we are in Christ and the promises of God we can rely on.”

When asked about the worst year of their marriage Shelton and Scott respond with “Can we say the worst (or hardest) year and a half?”

As missionaries living in a South African township, The Hersey’s went through a period in which they had to balance full-time ministry, full work schedules, a growing social enterprise business, friends experiencing deep trauma, and their own mental lows. During this same period, they transitioned from South Africa to Boston, all the while facing consistent illness and infertility.

“There was so much to do, so much loss in the massive transitions and struggle with infertility and illness, and each of us had our own journeys of grief and healing to walk through. We had been married for three years at this point, we were exhausted and well past our breaking points and did not understand very well how deep our emotional lows were and how much we were trying to sustain ourselves on our own strength.”

Through consistent tears, moments of irritation and anger, little to no energy, and loneliness they came to understand long-suffering in marriage. They saw the beauty that can come from sticking by one another and trusting God’s promises. They had to mourn the end of one season while embracing the beginning of another. “We needed rest, perseverance, counseling, acceptance of one another, healthy detachment from each others’ emotional ups and downs and the type of healing that only comes over time cloaked in grace.”

For Richer or for Poorer

Shelton & Scott see their marriage as being rich in laughter, long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, and growth. They enjoy learning from one another and growing personally and together.

When there is poor communication between these two they share, “Our tendency when we poorly communicate or don’t communicate is to make assumptions… Assumptions about what the other is thinking, doing and not thinking or doing that we feel they should be considering… and assumptions about each other’s motivations.”

Through Sickness and in Health

The Hersey’s are far too familiar with sickness. “This past year, we journeyed through the illness and passing of Scott’s father. Watching Scott’s dad struggle and pass from this life to the next was so painful, especially for Scott. Meanwhile, we continued to struggle with infertility and grieve through the process of unsuccessful fertility treatments. Again, the two of us were faced with another wilderness period of grief, each of us expressing it so different than the other. We longed for a lighter season of healing and regeneration. This time, we clung to God, sought joy and gratitude of each other, held a new perspective of the preciousness of life, and gave each other the acceptance, space, support, and grace we both needed to freely grieve and heal. We discovered amidst this wilderness season that regeneration was happening all along.

The way the Herseys maintain the health of their marriage is through communication. “We try to be aware of our own pain points when they’re triggered so we can speak God’s truth to ourselves and to each other. We create fun moments, romance, memories and conversations through which to connect in new and diverse ways. We rely on community and share openly about our marriage: the struggles, the different seasons, the help we have gratefully received, the love, fondness, respect and admiration we have for one another. We speak well of each other to others, conscious of building each other up and not tearing one another down.

To Love and to Cherish

Shelton’s perception of love has not changed much since before she married, but her understanding of what it means has deepened. “One perspective that has changed is what love in action means. I have had to learn a LOT about what this means for Scott and also for myself. Love for us means:

  • Prioritizing time together. 
  • Extending an extra measure grace to each other. 
  • Acknowledging what Scott says he needs.
  • Supporting each other in every season. 
  • Celebrating small and big “piles of stones” (or markers of God’s faithfulness.) 
  • Laying down our individual life visions for a God’s vision for “us.”
  • Embracing a unified vision that is about our journey toward wholeness. 

Scott cherishes his wife through encouraging her. Through his words, small notes, texts, emails and choosing to be present. He supports her in various areas of work and community commitments. He contributes to her gifts and passion. “My favorite is when he out of the blue says to me, “I’m so proud of you, Shelt,” or sends me a text that says, “I love you, and I see you.””

Til Death Do Us Part

When asked how the thought of death makes Shelton appreciate her husband she responds, “It is strange. Even though I only met Scott at age 25, I now cannot imagine living this life journey without him. In fact, looking back, it feels as if he was a small part of me all along. Perhaps this is because God has intricately used Scott to shape me more into my whole and true self. I always tell people that in being married to Scott, I have grown into the person that God created at my very inception; through him, my brokenness has given way to a more centered soul rooted in Christ.”

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Something Old Something New

Scott’s old school advice can be found in John 15:13, he quotes,

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay one’s life down for another.”

He goes on to share, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:3-4

  • Seek the interest of your wife before your own interest
  • If your wife wants to connect with you in a way that doesn’t interest you, lay down your interest and choose to connect.
  • Enter into conversations and conflict that you don’t think is a big deal or worth a conversation but it’s important to your spouse to engage and grow.
  • Listen to understand.
  • Buy a less expensive car (or something else) because your together-values are to be frugal and generous with others.
  • Put down your work (or turn off the t.v.) and go to bed with your spouse as much as you can (ending the day together is a great rhythm!)
  • Conserve energy throughout your day to have the peace and presence to go on a date night or to help serve alongside your wife in daily family routines.

His new school advice is to, “ Be aware when to HALT(!) a conversation. In other words, don’t enter into a serious conversation if either of you are feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired (HALT). Take some space–even if it means going to bed, taking a walk or going about your day while you’re still feeling a few of these things–so you can come back to each other and the conversation in a better, more whole place.”

Something Borrowed Something Blue

Some borrowed advice that has greatly impacted Scott over the years is, “Intentionally discover and seek out the unique ways your wife receives love and keep exploring new ways to speak her love language. Keep in mind that your wife’s love language might (and will) change from season to season in life. Your wife is in the process of constantly changing… So take the time and give energy to continually get to know her, always holding her with sacred curiosity.”

Scott’s bonus advice is to “Have fun together! Seek out fun, adventure, and new experiences, and pursue enjoyment of one another in little and big ways!” He suggests that couples celebrate as often as they can.

The question Scott would like his wife Shelton to answer is, “In what way do you feel you most need to be consistently pointed to God?”

Shelton’s question for her husband Scott is, “What do you dream over and for us?”

When asked if they had the chance to do it all over again would they, Scott replies, “I would have been more consistent about walking with other men through the marriage journey. We have had some very important and intentional voices speaking into our marriage, and some of the most important pieces of vision and health in marriage have been heavily influenced by our mentors and those with an intentional presence in our lives. I would have tried harder to be more consistent about these connections in difficult seasons as well as find new mentors from whom to receive encouragement.”

Shelton’s response to doing it over was, “Earlier on, I would have lowered my super-high and unrealistic expectations of Scott and our marriage (an expectation of perfection that I didn’t realize I had until a few years into marriage). I like the hopes I hold for us and that we hold together. I am enjoying the plans we make that are cloaked in God’s grace and vision for our wellness, not in my own expectation. I know I have a long way to go in this area, but I hope we can continue to see our marriage even more through the eyes of God’s delight in us so that all we do and say to one another might derive from a place of inspiration, not expectation.” 

For the reader: If you would like to ask this couple a question or offer a word of encouragement, please do so in the comment section below?

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Jack & Beckah Shae Shocklee Revisit Their Vows

Marriage Vows for Blog (26)To Have and to Hold

The trait that makes Jack aka “Shoc” uniquely Beckah’s is his patience. “He understands how passionate I am, and he gives me grace and room to process and express it, while he honors, supports, and makes me feel like he adores and admires that part about me. We work perfectly together because we compliment each other so well.” When Beckah is in her husband’s arms, she feels, safe, happy, whole.

For Better or for Worse

One area the Shocklees feel like they could do better is working out together more. “Health and wellness is always a goal!” The 5th year of their marriage was their worst year. Beckah was ministering to a young lady and her husband Jonathan “Jack” aka Shoc did not feel called to do the same. “He was very focused on production at the time. We learned the importance of walking together in all things. We’ve also learned about boundaries, and how much we allow others into our space and time. Because our boundaries were not strong and we were not on one accord, it became a very painful learning process for us both. God worked it all out for good in the end. Like growing pains, we both feel much stronger and wiser!”

For Richer or for Poorer

The areas the Shocklees feel rich in their relationship are grace, love, affection, honor, intimacy, faith, joy, vision, creativity, patience, kindness, passion, health, favor, hope, laughter, friendship, and adventure.

When there is poor communication between Shoc and Beckah “We can misunderstand each other, and it can be frustrating. It takes us longer to get on one accord.

In Sickness and in Health

When asked to share about a time in which the Shocklees faced sickness in their marriage Beckah shares, “I broke my ankle 5 months pregnant on my husbands birthday. Shoc and the girls took good care of me with gentleness and patience. They were attentive to my needs and gracious towards my emotions. This proved the character, love, humility, and grace my husband has towards me. I Love him!”

The way Beckah and Shoc maintain the health of their marriage is through JESUS. “Honoring and Cherishing one another. Aiming to Love each other like 1 Corinthians 13. We make God and one another priority. We dream together often, and we are careful to walk together.

To Love and to Cherish

Beckah says that her perception of love has become richer than it was before marriage. Their roots have grown deeper after having 3 children. Shoc builds his wife Beckah up by affirming her with words. “He tells me I’m beautiful when I least feel like it. He reminds me I’m doing a great job (especially as a mom). He surprises me with valuable gifts ( to affirm my value). He strengthens my soul with prayer! (to keep me focused). He gives me massages and allows me to be pampered when needed (to stay refreshed).”

Til Death Do Us Part

The thought of death prompts Beckah to share her adoration for her husband, “I kiss him a million times, and it never seems enough. It hurts to imagine spending a day without him on earth. I am overwhelmingly grateful for every moment I get to share this life with him while living in light of eternity.”

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Something Old Something New

Shoc’s old school advice to husbands is, “Always give 100%.” His new school advice is, “Always dream together.

Something Borrowed Something Blue

The marriage advice Shoc received that has impacted their marriage strongly is, “Never go to bed upset.” His bonus advice to husbands is to “Plan surprise trips!” The question he would like for his wife to answer is, “What day is our anniversary?” With a laughing but very serious tone, he says, “Cause she always forgets.” The question Beckah Shae has for her husband is, “What day is our anniversary, (cause I always forget) haha is it the 14th or 15th?”
For the reader: If you have a question, comment or compliment for this couple, please feel free to share in the comment section below.
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Nathan & Stephanie Faught Revisit Their Vows

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To Have

The trait that Stephanie feels makes Nathan uniquely hers is that he is a “Super Dad.” She explains, “I have never met another man that delights in his children and wife like my man. There is no place he would rather be than with us, and knowing someone desires to be with you that much is one of life’s most incredible feelings.”

To Hold

When Stephanie is in Nathan’s arms, she feels calm, connected and accepted.

For Better or For Worse

The Faughts feel like an area they could do better in their marriage is, “Coming to the Lord TOGETHER more often.” When asked about the worst year of their marriage the Faughts responded, “We don’t feel like there was the worst year, but our hardest years were the years were following the birth of our first and third son. They both were very sick and cried all the time! We were often sleep deprived and running low on energy, so it was hard to give of ourselves to one another fully. Even so, the Lord was always faithful to guard our marriage and keep us close.”

For Richer or For Poorer

Nathan and Stephanie have found their marriage to be rich in laughter, long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, consistency, and gratitude. When there is poor communication in the Faught household “Lots of inaccurate assumptions are made, and we are often left feeling disconnected.” 

Through Sickness and in Health

The Faughts have fought through great trials with sickness. “Our third son had a digestive disorder that made him very ill and extremely unhappy. He cried MOST of the time and was in constant pain. We desperately asked the Lord to heal him and end our suffering. His healing did not come immediately, but the Lord was WITH US! Each day was a challenge. There were days I was so exhausted, I didn’t know how I would have the energy to care for the baby and our other children. Nate would get home from work and quickly jump into action while I escaped to the shower. That year, Nate saw me at my worst, and yet he loved me the most! Such a trying time could have torn us apart, but instead, the Lord used it to strengthen my level of trust in Nate and to show us how to better care for ourselves and our marriage.” 

The Faughts maintain the health of their marriage by creating a routine and maintaining an early bedtime. “Once our boys are in bed, we guard our time, so we can consistently connect. Don’t underestimate the power of an at-home date!”  

To Love and to Cherish

Stephanie shares how her perception of marriage has changed over the years, “I used to think that marriage was all about usour dreams, our love for one another, our happily ever after. Now, I realize how marriage is all about God’s Kingdom- His purposes, HIs love, His plans, His molding us through the many moments of marriage.”

Nathan cherishes his wife by listening to her. He loves her where she is. He tells her how much he values her. He challenges himself for her benefit. He trusts God, even when it’s hard. He never makes her feel weak, and he expresses his gratitude often.

 

Til Death Do Us Part

When asked to share how death makes her appreciate her husband Stephanie replies, “I can’t imagine doing life without him. He makes me a better woman. I’m extremely passionate, too easily anxious, and a bit of an overachiever. His nature is steady and calm, so he balances me out.”

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Something Old Something New

Nathan’s old school advice to husbands is, “Never speak poorly of your wife.” His new school advice is to “Always tell your wife how beautiful, irreplaceable, and valuable she is to you and how you could not do life without her.”

Something Borrowed Something Blue

His borrowed advice is to “Love your wife through all the different seasons of life.” He adds, “Find activities you can do with your wife that you both enjoy.” The question that he would like for his wife to answer is, “What could I do on a daily basis that would encourage you?” Stephanie’s question that she would like her husband to answer is “What is your favorite thing about our marriage?”

         

If the Faughts had the chance to do it all over again, Stephanie says, “I would feel more secure in my husband’s love. I spent the early years of our marriage concerned that if he saw my weaknesses, he could not love me the same. I WAS WRONG! Oh, how he has loved me through my good, and my bad and seeing it has only increased our love!” Nathan says, he would have learned to consider what his wife needed more in the early years of their marriage.

 

For the reader: If you have any questions or encouragement for the Faughts feel free to share in the comment section below.

 

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Trapped in the Net

Connected to others, but disconnected from myself. 

Polarized emotions, hidden on a shelf.

Selfie game strong, faith walk weak. 

Fragmented thoughts makes it difficult to speak. 

To do list long, patience growing thin. 

Feeling like I’m losing, looking like, I win. 

Throwing shade at your speck, to deflect the plank in my own. 

Behaving like children, pretending like we’re grown. 

Life on the Web means death for the prey.

 Do we fight for freedom or wait for fangs? 

Trapped in the net.  Lost in cyberspace. 

Broadcasting thoughts that can’t be erased.

So busy having fun we don’t recognize the threat. 

What do you do when you are trapped in the net?

Upgrade Your Life

My phone consumes my time and does not give it back.

A modern day convenience that forces me to lack.

Why have the world in the palm of your hand, if it diffuses your focus and derails your plans?

Not trying to throw the baby out with the bath.

Simply seeking balance and a smarter path.

If smart phones were designed to be a tool.

Why do I feel less smart and more like a fool?

Like a TV remote, I scroll through stations, as my calendar chimes with notifications.

Do this, do that, get out and have fun.

It tells me what to do but I get less done.

This week I decided to confront my phone.

You’re supposed to make things right, but you always do me wrong.

My phone replied to me in a sarcastic tone.

How dare you imply that I do you wrong? You keep me awake late at night.

You run me down and care nothing about my plight.

You misplace me often and then get mad. While you’re busy freaking out, I am actually glad.

At least when I am lost I can get some rest.

You don’t give me frequent updates so I can function at my best.

My storage is always filled with photos of your life.

Which leaves me low on storage so I don’t act right.

You complain about me to others, pass me off to toddlers…

You call yourself upset when I have grounds to be bothered.

You expect me to be user-friendly but you are the worst kind of friend.

This toxic codependency must come to an end.

Allow me to give you a small word of advice.

I am not a human, I am an android device.

Instead of using me, upgrade your life.

Community Watch

Placing a cap on emotions is like shaking up a soda bottle. An explosion is inevitable when you stuff your feelings. I am writing this to take the lid off. I am a creative Christian who has often felt like my creativity is a curse. Being a right brainer in a left brain world is like being left-handed in a world that was created with right-handed people in mind. It is possible to navigate, but it can, at times, be awkward.

When I prepared for a recent talk on “The Curse of Creativity” I studied how countless creative lives have ended in suicide. Sometimes their untimely end is our beginning glimpse into their struggle. The actors whose characters became our crush. The comedians who invited us to laugh at their pain. The singers whose songs became our life’s anthem. The writers whose words wowed us with wisdom. How could stars who shined so brightly give into the dark? I think I know how, depression befriended them, infiltrated their thoughts, influenced their actions, and successfully coerced them to do what darkness does. Try to cancel the light.

Depression like darkness conceals identity, which is the very reason that adding street lights to an area can decrease crime. When we shine the light on depression we can decrease suicidal thoughts. Is there a community watch in your neighborhood in which neighbors look out for one another’s property? I think there is a need for a community watch in which we look out for each other’s lives.

Darkness alters self-perception, which is why small children who are trying to get away with doing something wrong often cover their eyes as if they are no longer visible. Depression does something similar, it’s like putting our hands over our faces and thinking that if we can’t see, then we can’t be seen.  Just because we close our eyes to depression, doesn’t mean we’re no longer depressed, it simply means we are more likely to bump into something that is way worse than the sorrow that caused us to hide.

If you’re ready to take the lid off, turn the light on or simply uncover your eyes concerning depression, click the link below so that you don’t have to walk through alone. 

http://www.crisistextline.org/

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/