Tuesday, December 29, 2015


December 29, 1987

Mario and I have been married Twenty-eight years today.  I thank God for Mario who is a major fox and a hell of a lot of fun to be with… but I have to say that it has not always been easy.  After twenty-eight years we have a relationship that is beautiful and we have reaped it after years of hard work.  For years we both practiced sowing the seeds of love.  Our early marriage counselors promised us that sowing good seeds would bear good fruit.  They were right.

After you have been married for as long as we have, people ask you for advice.  We usually don’t give any – mainly because what these couples are really asking for is hope.  They want us to tell them that there is hope for their relationship, no matter how badly it has deteriorated.  All couples do – they want a good relationship.

Once a year I break out our best advice – and here it is.  Read on if you want to…this is the super-abridged edition of what we would tell couples if we really did give out advice.  

1.  Don’t expect your marriage to be like your wedding.

Please don’t take this the wrong way.  

I just mean that your marriage is not going to be like your wedding where everything is all about you!  Weddings used to be a church, a smattering of family, and the bride and groom dressed up in their “Sunday best”.  Now weddings are five-star affairs with big, fat dresses and tuxedos and tall cakes.  Grooms and their groomsmen dance in synchronized fashion.  Envelopes of money are given in celebration. 

Marriage is a MERGER, a legal contract, and a covenant that cannot be broken.   God help you if you think that marriage is one big party.  It is work! Often it is boring, tedious, and routine.  Only the best couples have the endurance to bring life into this arrangement!

2. DEPOSIT into your spouse’s heart.

Love is one of the key ingredients in successful marriages, but romantic love is not enough.  People who master marriage realize that the spouse has a “heart account” that must be filled.  Most people know how to make love withdrawals – but forget to make the love deposits.

Kind words, gifts, laughter, memories and special traditions that you celebrate together are all examples of deposits.  Figure out what your spouse likes and do that thing a lot.  

Let it be your idea. 

3.  Ditch your addictions.

Love is a seedling in an antagonistic world that is built for individuals.  Individuals have addictions. 

Alcohol, drugs and gambling are not the only addictions that kill relationships (although they certainly do a LOT of damage to plenty of marriages). Socially acceptable addictions like food, television, phone games, and work take their toll on more families than you would think.  

After years in full-time ministry we have heard too many partners confide that their significant other no longer values them as much as their ____________.  Fill in the blank with your addiction – that kind of behavior kills.

4. Relationships are worth protecting.   

In an effort to be polite or socially acceptable you may forget that the main relationship you are in requires a genuine wall of defense.  People may try to kidnap one of you for fun and games at the cost of the other’s happiness.  Others may be friends with your spouse but not care for you.  These people have a habit of asking if “just one of you” can work or play side-by-side with them.  There might be times when friends encourage gossiping about your spouse. 

Even well-meaning friends and family can make these mistakes.  We have had many of these in our marriage, but have always managed to remember that our partnership takes priority.  We are not joined at the hip, but we do value togetherness.  Most successful couples are genuinely friends who like to be with one another.  Mario and I keep our spiritual eyes open for the other’s welfare --protecting one another means protecting our relationship. 

5.  Love requires action and movement to continue. 

Love does not grow by itself – it’s not kudzu or phlox. 

Do something.
Guys, if you’re actually reading this, make her a card.  Tell her you love her.  When you’re wrong, say “I’m sorry, babe.” That last part, “babe” can be substituted with your pet name that makes her feel like she belongs to you.

Girls.  I know you’re exhausted, especially if you have kids, but make him a damn sandwich now and then.  Tell him that he’s smoking hot – and prove it.  Give him a memory that will wreck his concentration the next day at work. 

6.   Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

I didn’t author this – God did.  Learn how to listen (without your answer playing in your head).  Listen like it’s the first time you’ve ever heard what he/she is saying.  Listen more than you talk and get a reputation as a listener.  If you listen, you open one another’s hearts.  Each time you listen to your spouse you say “You are worth something to me.  What you have to say matters.” 

You may not agree with each other, but at least you have listened.

7. Use your manners.

This is your spouse, not your property.  Say thank you for everything they do for you.  Say please a lot.  Hopefully your mother raised you with manners - exercise them!!

Also, please tell your lady that you love her and that she’s pretty.  Do you know how important that is to her?  A lot important. Okay?

Also, please RESPECT that guy, alright? Do you know how important that is to him?  A lot important. Okay?

I can also tell you – if you’ve read this far that community and accountability is important.  For us, our church and our families witness to our union and our major life decisions.  This is important for the big life changing events that will affect your relationship.  It is also important for the little decisions that affect others. 

Be blessed and live in love.  We wish you the best in everything. 

Love rules!!

Sunday, December 27, 2015


I'm 53 today!

I will love this year.

I turn fifty-three today, an age that doesn’t mean much, other than I feel blessed to have such good health at this age.  What does appeal to me is that number – it is one that I have admired for years.  Isaiah fifty-three is one of the most significant pieces of literature in my life.    

Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet, specifically described the Messiah over 700 years before the birth of Jesus. Isaiah’s prophecy was so spot-on that it reads like an account of the sufferings of Jesus on the cross that someone wrote afterward. I remember the first time I heard it – in the living room of our Spiritual mentor’s house.  He asked me if it sounded like anyone I knew.  I went to bed that night and couldn’t get the chapter out of my mind.  How beautiful - that God would use these words to reach my heart.

I am a woman with a gazillion facets that can never be seen all at once, but God knows -and sees-every side of me.  I was a woman hell-bent on following my own version of wisdom when God penetrated my heart and injected life into me.  I was changed completely by His love and I am constantly amazed at HIS mercy.

I give this gift to you on my birthday –Isaiah 53.  Whether you are suffering or victorious, let these words wash over you.  Honestly, does this sound like anyone you know? 

Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "HOLY TO THE LORD " Zech. 14:20

Breathe deeply. 

You have now prepared for Christmas and are now ready to receive, and participate in, the celebration of it.  Christmas is not only an event, it is the spirit of generosity and deep, abiding joy. 

No matter where you are in the world, Christmas is a special time.  I have been in the Dubai airport in United Arab Emirates and enjoyed the decorative red and gold lights whispering of the coming Savior. There are beautiful surprises that are hidden our traditions; they explain this holiday’s meaning.  Even the pagan celebrations involve an element of a hidden treasure inside of an obvious gift – but we Christians hold the truth.  

It is an amazing privilege entrusted to us - to be bearers of so great a  secret.  

I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,
Isaiah 42:6
All year long we can whisper of it, but Christmas is the time we can sing it out loud.

He is here, He is here…

The Messiah that we have been waiting for has arrived!  He was promised from the beginning of time and He is the perfect plan of God.  Jesus was born because everyone needed a Savior from our condition of sin.  

Here’s the secret: He is the perfect representation of God.  God invested himself into us, into mankind.

Because of Christ Jesus, the Messiah, we are reconciled to God, our heavenly Father.  He was born in lowly and humble circumstances, and gave us an example of how we should live.  No matter how much wealth we can accumulate it is nothing compared to heavenly glory, which is what He left to become incarnate. 

Love. Humility. Adoration. Joy.

The life we are now living is lit up by a Redeemer who came to us to fulfill a promise.  All other gifts are nothing in comparison to this one; all other joy is dependent on this. 

Merry Christmas!!