DO OVER: 3 Keys to Unlock a Lasting Love.

 

We are reading Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts by Dr. Les and Leslie Parrott.  We love this book.  We have walked through it with a soon-to-be-married couple and we are learning so much even as we encourage them toward a God-centered, thriving marriage.

Why read a book meant for those just starting this journey of marriage?

I don’t know about you, but my days and weeks are filled with “do overs.”  For example,  I have had to humbly ask my husband for a “do over” because some heinous statement has just come barreling out of my mouth and I wish I could stuff it back in my face.

Or my husband asks for a “do over” when he realizes he was trying to show me love with HIS love language rather than mine.

Or I create a “do over” for our family’s schedule because I become aware of an alarming statistic about a person’s need for rest and how it affects health and wellbeing.  New information tends to create new thoughts and ways of functioning.

“Do over’s” are simply…grace.  Allowing someone another chance.

When our marriage was riddled with lies, betrayal, anger, hurt and pain, it was a lifeless marriage.  So, when God provided a way through the storm and we began to heal our marriage, it became very clear to us that it was going to be a NEW marriage.

Reading books meant for newlyweds was amazing, because it helped us to look at our marriage with fresh eyes.

Every new day is a fresh start to get closer to the life God wants us to live.

That includes our marriages.

Do you want a marriage that lasts a lifetime?  Let’s think like a newlywed and hear from Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott!

Lifelong love does not happen by chance but is an art that must be learned, practiced, and honed.

-Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, Save Your Marriage Before It Starts

A marriage must be nurtured well in order to grow and flourish in a healthy way.

The Parrotts share 3 ways to cultivate a healthy, thriving marriage:

Making Love Last a Lifetime

1.  Cultivate Passion

2.  Cultivate Intimacy

3.  Cultivate Commitment

Let’s dive deeper into those 3 keys for a lasting love.

Here are some ways to CULTIVATE PASSION, according to our esteemed authors:

  • Practice meaningful touch.
  • Plan mutually enjoyable experiences.
  • Compliment your partner daily.

I don’t know which of these is most difficult for you, but mine is the complimenting.  You see, I tend to see flaws first.  I am not proud of it, but I am hard-wired to “make things better.” I have a hard time giving praise if everything isn’t “perfect.”  Meanwhile, my husband feels most loved with “words of affirmation.”  Tough combo.  So, this is what I am working on right now…complimenting my husband DAILY!

How will you apply these principles of cultivating passion?

Let’s strive to CULTIVATE INTIMACY, shall we?  Here are ways to do so:

  • Spend time together.
  • Listen with a third ear.  (not just “half-listening”)
  • Practice unconditional acceptance.
  • Focus on commonalities.
  • Explore spiritual terrain together.

Which one of these resonates most with you?  Which one feels completely foreign?  The book goes deeper into what each of these means, so we highly recommend you consider grabbing Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts to read more.

Do note that cultivating intimacy isn’t just “have more sex.”  Many of us equate intimacy with sex.  I surely believe that when a couple is cultivating a higher level of intimacy, more sex comes quite naturally.  But the act of just having more sex isn’t going to gain you a deeper level of intimacy.  This is especially true for women.

(This is a topic I have considering writing about….if you would like to hear more about sex and intimacy in marriage, let us know in the comments or send us a private message)

Our third key to lasting love is to CULTIVATE COMMITMENT.  Here’s how:

  • Assess the high level of commitment.
  • Meet your partner’s needs.
  • Honor your partner’s promise.
  • Make your commitment part of being.

There may be nothing more important in a marriage than a determination that it shall persist.  With such a determination, individuals force themselves to adjust and to accept situations which would seem sufficient grounds for a breakup, if continuation of the marriage were not the prime objective.

-from the book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male

One of the most important changes we made in our marriage after the betrayal was to not allow an OUT.  We have agreed that we are married until death.  Period. End of story.

There is a huge amount of freedom in that choice.  It is a choice.  We ALL have that choice.

Is that a choice you and your spouse have made?  Are you completely committed to your marriage or is there an “out?”

Friends, in order to have love that lasts a lifetime, we must cultivate passion, intimacy and commitment.

When we do, we experience a love like NONE OTHER.

Based on this truth, what will you “do over” TODAY?

www.sidebysideministry.org

 

 

 

Advertisements

What did you expect?

When we got married, I expected my husband had the same expectations I did.  I mean, duh.  Isn’t that why we are marrying each other? Don’t we both expect the same things out of this marriage?

Ah, no.

That is the lie many couples believe when they get married.

The Lie:

We believe that our spouse has the same expectations that we do.

In their book, Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott share this very popular marriage myth believed by newlyweds:  “We expect exactly the same things from marriage.”

Here’s the truth…”What we anticipate seldom occurs, what we least expect generally happens-especially in marriage.”

What we anticipate seldom occurs, what we least expect generally happens-especially in marriage.

-Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

That’s exactly how it was for us.  I came into our marriage with a highly romanticized view of marriage.  I also came in with the extreme expectation that we were going to be the BEST at being married…that we weren’t going to continue the cycle of broken marriages in both of our families.  The stakes were high for me, especially as an Achiever type.  I wanted to WIN at this marriage thing.

AND I wanted what I wanted.  I came into the marriage with selfish, unrealistic expectations that no human could fulfill.

I came into the marriage with selfish, unrealistic expectations that no human could fulfill.

-Lisa Goldberg, Side By Side Ministry

My husband came into the marriage expecting it to be peaceful and comfortable.  He also came into it expecting respect and LOTS OF SEX.

We all tend to live by a set of rules that aren’t necessarily spoken but are always known to us.

So, we enter marriage with our expectations and our unspoken rules and we ASSUME that our spouse has those same expectations and rules.

They don’t.

So, what do we do?

As I see it, there are two choices:

  1.  Continue on with your individual expectations and wait “patiently” until your spouse conforms to your desires or learns the magic of mind-reading.  Meanwhile, you are growing further and further apart because you are not operating from the same set of “rules” for your marriage.
  2. Openly discuss your differing expectations, set a new set of “rules” for your marriage that are spoken and agreed upon and know they will continue to change and evolve as you grow together as a married couple.  This creates a fertile soil for your unique marriage to grow, flourish and thrive.

We started our marriage with choice 1 and it nearly broke us.  We spent the first six years of our marriage in bondage to our selfish, unrealistic, unspoken expectations of each other.  It was painful and lonely.

When God miraculously breathed life back into our dying marriage, we began to humble ourselves (especially me!) to see our marriage as an opportunity to leave extreme expectations at the door and love unconditionally.

We also began to communicate those unspoken rules that we were holding over each other.  And we created our own set of marriage rules, so to speak, that were unique to us.

It’s not that we don’t have ANY expectations of each other.  We do!  We have REALISTIC, healthy expectations that are rooted in the expectations God has of each of us.  We now have a standard–set by Jesus–to live our life by.

When one of us veers off the course we have set for our marriage and our family, we do our best to gently restore the other.  And if new “rules” need to be set, we communicate that to each other. We don’t wait until the other “figures it out.” That would take us back to square one, right?

What are your unrealistic expectations?

What unspoken rules do you have?

How are your expectations working for or against your marriage?

51NlPqpTHuL._SX341_BO1,204,203,200_

For the next several weeks, we are walking through the book, Save Your Marriage Before It Starts, by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott.  We will be sharing our personal SYMBIS assessment of our own marriage as well as many tools for a healthy, thriving marriage.  We welcome you to follow along! Also, we are trained facilitators in the SYMBIS Assessment, so contact us if you’d like to take the assessment with your spouse!  It’s an eye-opening experience and great way to start or tune up your marriage.

www.sidebysideministry.org

SYMBIS-badge-color

 

 

Sincere or Fake Love?

Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.  Romans 12:9

My husband was being downright mean.  Plain and simple.  He was deliberately trying to get me to divorce him by treating me poorly.  True story.

What would be the reasonable response as a wife?

In our worldly, sinful nature, our response tends to be defensiveness, protecting ourselves from the pain.  I mean, that makes sense, right?

Another response is to serve it back to him.  Oh yea….you think I am a (fill in the blank!) Well, YOU are a (FILL IN THE BLANK!!!!!!!)

And even worse, we may just retreat, remove ourselves physically or emotionally.  You’ve heard of the ol’ fight or flight thing.  Well, it’s real.

So, how did I respond to my husband’s treatment??

First, let me tell you that his treatment was not abusive.  It was rude and mean-spirited and selfish, but it was not abusive.  Had it been, the correct response would have been to remove myself from an unsafe situation and seek professional help.

Second, my OLD way of responding including all of the above I listed: Defensiveness, Serving it back to him HARD, or retreating with a good, old-fashioned silent treatment.

But. GOD.

One of our former pastors favorite two words in the Bible.  But God.  (not recommended for children’s sermons…just sayin’)

Once God was back at the center of my existence–after a long rebellion–none of those old responses felt right.  What response did feel right?

Love.  Sincere love.

Sincere love is “without hypocrisy.” It isn’t fake. It isn’t pretend.  It is true.  And most importantly, it is NOT something YOU can conjure up on your own.

Sincere love comes from GOD.  

That same husband who was treating me so poorly before knowing God, NOW–with God as His guide–shares this profound statement:

I learned that the more I love God, the more I am capable of loving my wife.

-Steve Goldberg (Side By Side Live Storytelling Experience)

**Here’s another post about Steve’s statement.

In Romans 12:9, it says “Love must be sincere.”  And it goes on to say, “Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.”

What is good?  GOD.

Cling to Him and we have the ability to love sincerely.  The closer we are to Him, the easier it is to love people from a true and right place in our heart.

In our Side By Side presentation, I share a story of how I was able to give genuine (sincere), unconditional love to Steve when he was doing the exact opposite.

For months, I would wake up and pray to God to give me a clean heart–because love doesn’t come from a resentful heart—I would pray for God to give me a clean (sincere) heart, so that I could….love Steve unconditionally.

-Lisa Goldberg (Side By Side Live Storytelling Experience)

Sincere love comes from God.

He is the good we need to cling to.

What is evil?  SIN.

Our own selfish desires and human responses to hurt and pain are part of our sinful nature.  Sinful nature is part of the evil we need to hate.

God is asking us to turn away from our sinful human nature and cling to God’s perfect loving nature.  Through HIM, we love sincerely.

Is there someone in your life that you find difficult to love?

Are you trying to be a more loving person in your own strength?

Are you exhausted from the “fake love” mask you wear everyday, trying to be a good person?

If any of these ring true, consider taking that to the Lord.  Ask Him to give you sincere love.  Take time every day to read a couple verses in the Bible about God’s unconditional love for us.  Consider reading Love As A Way of Life by Gary Chapman, our book of the month!

Fill your days with God’s love…and you will be loving sincerely in no time!

 

Have you ever heard our story? You can watch for free right now! We’ve even split our live event into short, easy to watch (or binge on) episodes!

View Our Journey From Hurt to Hope.

SBS 20170723 008

www.sidebysideministry.org

An old friend…Love.

Love is not only realistic, but our only hope of survival.  -Gary Chapman

I don’t know about you, but God seems to find ANY WAY possible to get a message He needs me to hear into my hands.

Most recently, He used a silly series of events to get me to listen to a book on CD (yes, a CD…those little round shiny things!).

The book was Love As A Way of Life by Gary Chapman, the author of the NY Times Bestseller The Five Love Languages.  I have owned this audio book for several years and it was packed away in boxes from our recent move.  However, it “mysteriously” showed up on the shelf I was cleaning the other day and I set it aside…maybe I would listen to it again once school started and I end up in long car lines.

When I had to drive 2.5 hours to the She Speaks Conference, I decided to listen to the book on the drive.  I thought I had come up with a brilliant idea, when, in fact, I now have no doubt that God planned on me listening just at the time all along.

From the moment I began to listen to Dr. Gary Chapman’s southern drawl, I was drawn into the overall theme of the book…Love as a way of life.

Love…as a way of life.

Almost immediately, I realized that I was not living out that statement.  It’s not that I didn’t love.  It’s not that I didn’t ever show love or receive love.  More so, it was not my current “way of life.”  Let me explain.

In the core of our being, we tend to have a driving force.  Something that drives our daily life and sets the tone for our days.  Dr. Chapman’s book tells us that love should be that driving force.

God’s love for us gives us the ability to love.

We love because He first loved us.  1 John 4:19

He calls us to love…out of ALL the things we do, He wants us to love.  

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.   Colossians 3:12-14

So, what was my “way of life” if I wasn’t “above all, putting on love?”  Fear.

FEAR was my way of life.

And here’s the real clincher….it was a fear of love.  What?!  A fear of love?

Have you ever been hurt?  Have you ever been scared to love because you were fearful of being hurt?  If so, you understand what I am talking about.

When we are hurt, we pretty much have two options: LOVE or FEAR.  Fear is the root of other emotions we may experience after a hurt….shame, guilt, anger, loathing, resentment, etc, etc, etc.  Deep at the core of those feelings is fear.

I was fearful of being hurt.  So I was choosing to keep a perimeter that love couldn’t break through.  When we place walls around us, we create a barrier to all that love has to offer us.  

My drive to that conference was life-giving.  Listening to what “love as a way of life” looks like helped me to see that I wasn’t living that way.  Fear was standing in the way of pure and true love that was waiting to pour out of me and into me.

None of the concepts were new to me, but I needed to hear them again!  How often do we  learn something only to have a need to revisit it, especially when we are prideful enough to think “I got this?”

I strongly encourage you to read or listen to Love As A Way of Life by Dr. Gary Chapman. I pray that God will reveal an area of your life where something other than love is your driving force.

May LOVE be YOUR way of life.

www.sidebysideministry.org

Postcard4x6bleed300dpiFRONT

Postcard4x6bleed300dpiBACK

Register Here!

 

Chin up?

I looked at my list and sighed.  Like, one of those big sighs that lasts so long, you wonder if there is any breath left in your lungs.  I saw all the tasks that I had found important enough to write down.  You know the tasks…the things for the house, the things for the family, the things for the job, the things for the church, the things for the people….ALL the things.  All. the. things.

All the things.

With that huge sigh, my body sank…in a posture of defeat.  How would I get it all done? Who am I failing by only picking a few tasks to accomplish? Why can’t I be like those other people that have endless energy to pound out all their tasks on their list?

Slowly, my defeat turned to despair.

There was no way I could get it all done.  That thought was paralyzing for me, a very Type A personality.  Something had to give.

So, I thought to myself…Chin up, girl!  Chin up!  Don’t be defeated, just take one thing at a time.  Tackle what you can!  You can do this!  You know all that positive self-talk, right?  The things that those New York Times Bestselling authors tell us to do in order to achieve a million tasks in an hour?  Yes, I tried to tell myself all those things.  All the things.

But it didn’t work.  Because there was still defeat in my heart.  All the self-help authors in the world could not remove that defeat from my heart.  

“Chin up” was not going to cut it.

Then, I heard this statement from a wise woman…..

God cannot lift an unbowed head.

God cannot lift an unbowed head. -Meredith Brock

Remember ALL THE THINGS I had on that very important list of tasks?

Do you think God was on that list?  No.

Do you think I had scheduled time with God in that very busy week?  Nope.

Do you think I woke that morning genuinely desiring to accomplish what God chose? No.

Friends, I did not have ALL the things on that list.  In fact, I was missing the ONE thing that should have been on it!  God!

God cannot lift an unbowed head.

Someone once told me that when you are so busy that you don’t have time to pray, you should stop to pray all the more.  And in that, the prayers are not to be just me asking God for something….they can be heartfelt prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving and reverence for the ONE who created me.

If you are at all like me and need a list to get you through your day of tasks….may I humbly suggest that we put God on our list?  May we consider placing Him at the top, even?

Lets bow our heads to the one, true God…so that when we are overwhelmed or worried or begin to feel defeat, He can gently lift our bowed head.

God IS all the things.  He is IN all the things.  He wants us to bring glory to His name THROUGH all the things.

But He must come first.  He’s the only one that can remove the defeat and replace it with peace.  Not just in our to-do list…but in ALL THE THINGS.

Chin up?  Not in my own effort.  But God will lift my chin high when my head is bowed to   Him.

www.sidebysideministry.org

Do you have a hurt that needs to hear hope?  

You can watch our story…our journey from hurt to hope….HERE.

 

 

 

Summer Fun: Date Challenge!

We are smack in the middle of summer.  Are you wondering where the time has gone?  Have you planned plenty of activities and fun for your kids but none for you and your spouse?

Welcome to the club.  sigh.

How does that happen??  Somehow, we find our calendars filled with all kinds of summer activities, most of which are not dedicated, intentional time with our spouse.  Even those of us without children will tend to focus more on group activities during the summer, rather than dedicated alone time with the one we love.

Group summer activities are not “date night.”  A fun group softball game with friends or a bbq with neighbors are great, social summertime fun!  However, those activities do not count as dedicated, intentional time nurturing your marriage.  

If we are not leaning in to our spouse, we are slowly leaning away from them.

SO, let’s lean in!

Let’s plan some intentional, summer fun for just the two of us!!!

Here are 5 ideas for affordable, easy, fun (and some you don’t have to leave the house) dates for you and your spouse.

5 SUMMER FUN DATES!

anne-preble-198119-unsplash

  1. Farmers Market Surprise:  Go to a local farmers market.  Give yourselves $10 each. (or whatever amount you prefer)  Split up for a short amount of time and find something (or many things!) for your spouse, only spending the amount given.  Enjoy the time thinking only of what your spouse would like and then have fun surprising each other!  Once you have your gifts, spend as much time enjoying the market together.

IMG_7083

2.  Game Night:  Grab a board game, new or one you’ve played a million times, and play.  No kids allowed.  If you want to go the extra mile, get The Discovery Game, which is specifically for couples.  I have a good one planned for us…..BeanBoozled.  That looks like it will be a hoot!

spencer-watson-335294-unsplash

3.  Row, Row, Row Your Boat:  Find a body of water, rent or borrow a canoe or kayak (preferably one you share) and spend a couple of hours rowing your boat.  You can learn a lot about a couple by how they row a boat together!  LOL!  Seriously, though…we’ve had some stressful boat experiences because, shocker, we were fighting over who was in charge of steering the boat!  (Disclaimer: I was in the front and should not have been steering even though I totally was)  However, we have had some beautiful moments on a boat surrounded by nature.  Conversations are different on a boat…I don’t know why, they just are.  Try it.

IMG_7535

4.  Food Adventure:  Time to get daring!  Go to to a restaurant that you NEVER thought you would go to….or make a recipe together that seems a bit scary or includes ingredients that kinda freak you out.  Whichever you choose, decide together to try something new and strange!  What’s the worst thing that happens?? (Don’t answer that)  You could discover–TOGETHER–something new and exciting that you love!  *see above, I LOVED this beet pizza! Steve, not so much.

IMG_7662

5.  Tourist Time:  Find a local “tourist trap” that you have never been to and visit it, just the two of you.  It doesn’t have to cost a thing.  We have local museums with free admission.  Or you can visit a local park or beautiful vista off the side of the road (see above!).  It’s amazing how many wonderful things are all around us…and we only see them when we have guests in town.  (can I get an Amen?)  Go enjoy those interesting, fun and gorgeous places with the one you love most.

OK.  There they are.  Five, easy, totally do-able dates for you!  NOW, go do them.  Here’s the deal.  We are issuing a challenge, that we will do right along with you.  We challenge you to pick 3 of these dates.  Schedule them on the calendar.  Plan your babysitting swap or whatever it takes to free up 3 days or nights BEFORE LABOR DAY.

Experience 3 of the 5 date nights prior to Labor Day (September 3, 2018).  Take pictures (we need proof, kids!) during your date.  Post them to our Instagram or Facebook page with the hashtag #sidebysidedates.  When you have posted 3 dates, you will receive a gift from us!!!

Summer Fun Date Challenge:

  1.  Go on 3 of the 5 dates (just the two of you!)
  2.  Take pics on all your dates and post to FB or Insta with #sidebysidedates
  3.  Receive a fun gift from Side By Side!
  4.  Most importantly….lean in and have fun!!!

We can’t wait to see your #sidebysidedates pics!

http://www.sidebysideministry.org

 

 

Today is the first day of the rest of your life…

This month, we are focusing on celebration! Woohoo!  We recently celebrated our country’s birth and we tend to spend July vacationing, spending time with family, and generally enjoying all that this life has to offer.

So, it may seem odd to you that, in this celebratory season,  I have chosen to share with you the words I spoke at my mother’s funeral in January.  Until you read them.  

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, Go for it.

This was a statement used by my mom, Valerie Strouf, on a regular basis throughout her life.

As a child, she would practically sing it while waking me up in the morning, yanking open my white eyelet curtains.

As a teen, she would remind me, after a bad grade or tough day, that there was always another chance to get it right.

As a rebellious college student, she would write me letters of encouragement and sometimes with rebuking, ending the letters with this statement.

As a young adult, she would end many of our hour-long phone calls with this statement, reminding me that, no matter what, I always had another opportunity to “go for it.” This was especially uplifting when I was auditioning as a green actress in New York.

Once I returned to the path that God had paved for me, as opposed to the self-reliant, destructive road I had chosen for several years, this statement had new meaning to me. It felt best accompanied with Psalm 118:24 “this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, Go for it.

This is how my mom lived her life. She had a blessed life. But it wasn’t an easy life. She had hardships, hurts and plenty of health issues. I am sure that there are many people here that can relate. Life can be hard.

AND she had an amazing strength, given to her by God. God gave her strength, grace, courage, and perseverance. I have walked 44 years with my mom, and I have watched her overcome so much, because of her faith. Not religion…faith. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance in what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, Go for it. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

There are so many things that I could share with you about my mom. I have lost the woman who knows me best in the world and I just keep thinking about all the wonderful times we had together. From a tiny apartment for two, road trips in the station wagon, perming my hair in the basement, ice cream at Beernsteins, shopping for prom dresses, Macys Thanksgiving Day parade, a perfect hair styling for my wedding, to high tea for two. She was an extraordinarily special woman. I could speak about my memories of her for hours. I miss her deeply.

IMG_5293

But I also know her quite well, and I can confidently tell you that the most important thing she would want me to share with you is that her beauty, strength, grace, perseverance, love, and joy came from Jesus and Jesus alone.

She faced the hardest moments and the most joyous moments of her life with God as her guide. Including throughout her final days. And she had peace in those days because she knew she would be with her Savior in heaven for eternity. And knowing her as I do, I know she would want each of you right there with her.

In the past couple weeks, I have heard many people refer to my mom as “such a special lady” with a “sweet smile” and a “beautiful soul.” Yep, that was my mom and what we all saw in her…that sweet smile and beautiful soul….was the love of God shining through her.

In these last several years of medical issue after medical issue, my mom made the courageous choice to face each day saying to herself, and all those around her, something she has been choosing to greet the day with for most of her life….

This is the the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life…..Go for it.

I love you, Mom, and I plan to do just that.

I pray that, whether you are riding high or at the lowest low, you would celebrate the life that God has given you and see that He has made this day…which is reason enough to rejoice…and celebrate.

www.sidebysideministry.org

 

3 Must-do Tips for Coping

I think its safe the say that we all have experienced difficult times in our lives. As long as we are living here on earth, it is certain that we will have hard times that we need to cope with. (John 16:33)
Depressing, huh? Well, it depends on how you look at it. As I shared HERE, coping with difficulties can be extremely challenging. As Christians, it’s hard to feel God’s presence in the midst of a storm.

Storms are super distracting and can easily derail us from seeing God clearly.

However, God is right there with us in the storm. His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and He has power over even the darkest of situations.
If that is true, then how do we—mere mortals—stay the course, or cope, with all that life throws at us?

I have found 3 ways that help me cope with tough times.

1. Pursue God FIRST.

When life hits hard, we tend to run to anything but God. Whether it’s the mall, a drink, exercise, or a slew of other things…we think doing those things are somehow going to “make it better.”
The absolute first thing we need to do when hard times come is PRAY. Talk to God. Ask Him for help. More importantly, pursue Him…get to know Him more. This has been a huge “a-ha!” for me in the last several months.
Many times when I pray or read God’s word, it’s with the goal of attaining a solution to a problem. Even when I am in the Bible for a specific study, I am reading in order to get the answer to the question posed. Most of my time in the Bible was spent seeking an answer to a question.
Recently, I had a hurtful conversation with someone I love. My heart hurt, I was wounded, and I felt utterly confused. I didn’t even know what question to ask.
So, I went to my Bible and just began to read, with the only desire being to know God better. Because if I knew God better, I could understand how to be more like Him. And if I am more like Him, I could respond to the situation as He would.

I read God’s words with a deep desire to know Him more.

And this crazy thing happened! I not only felt closer to God, but He also answered a question that I had not even known to ask yet! It was amazing!

When we approach God with a pure desire to know him, he blesses us with understanding that we didn’t even know we needed.

Resist going to all those other things first.
Things like “retail therapy” and “comfort food” may not be so appealing after you have consulted the Creator. Pursue God first.

 

2. Seek WISE counsel

When times are tough, it’s so easy to go to a friend–or just about anyone–and vent. Oh, we love to vent. Especially we women love to get it ALL out. We seem to feel better when we just “chat it out.”

Venting can easily becoming gossiping or produce a complaining spirit, and that only makes matters worse.

AND,  if we choose to speak to someone who is not like-minded, we can be led to respond to hard times in a way that will only darken the situation more and more.

The Bible tells us to seek wise counsel.

(Psalm 1:1, Proverbs 12:15)

And it also tells us that wisdom comes from God. (Proverbs 2:6)

So, that means we need to be very careful about who we share our problems with or whom we seek advice from. According to the above verses, we are to seek out godly wisdom from friends, family or professionals that follow our same belief system.

Coping well includes being surrounded and supported by people that will help you seek God first and follow His ways.

Don’t be deceived by the ways of the world.  Seek wise counsel, friends.

3.  Lean IN.

For many people, tough situations and hard times are something they prefer to just “forget about.” It seems easier to stuff it down, “let it go,” and move on.

Unfortunately, difficult things that require healthy coping skills rarely just “go away.”

They are usually things that need to be worked through, healed from, or forgiven.

They take time. Oftentimes, they are a process of healing rather than a quick fix.

Stuffing them down, ignoring them, or repressing them will likely lead to further hurt and frustration down the road.

What’s the alternative? Lean in.

See the problem or the hurt and face it head on.

Take the time to follow #1 (Pursue God First) and #2 (Seek Wise Counsel). Learn and grow from this hard time.  Allow the mess to be a message… for yourself or others.

It’s tempting to suppress difficult experiences, but it’s healing and life-giving to face them and experience the blessing God has planned for you through them.

Rather than choosing to ignore difficulties, lean in to them.

Friends, coping with difficult life experiences is not easy. But it can be easier when you choose health coping skills.

Pursue God, seek wise counsel, and lean in. You will be amazed at how God can work ALL things for His good.

www.sidebysideministry.org

Coping: In, Out or Up?

In the month of June, our focus here at Side By Side Ministry is on the subject of coping.  If you haven’t noticed, we do our best to follow a theme each month…addressing subjects that are on our hearts, and might be on yours, too.  Coping is a timely subject, as we have had to do our fair share of coping in the last several months.

The definition of COPE is:  deal effectively with something difficult.

The synonyms are especially interesting to me: manage, survive, subsist, look after oneself, fend for oneself, carry on, get by/through, bear up, hold one’s own, keep one’s end up, keep one’s head above water.

How are we supposed to cope or deal effectively with something difficult?

I can tell you this…it’s much easier to talk about how to do this when there ISN’T something difficult to “manage.”  Right?!  We can easily come up with some lovely answers to this question when our most difficult problem is deciding what to have for dinner.

But when we are burdened, I mean REALLY burdened with something that we have to figure out how to SURVIVE….how should we cope?

Confession time.  In the last several months, I have had several experiences where I have had to figure out how to “keep one’s head above water.” From unfortunate personal attacks– to the bittersweet leaving of friends and family to move to a new state– to the heart wrenching shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland– to my Mother’s recent (and way too early) death.  It’s been a season of difficulties that I have had to cope with.

As I have walked through this season, I noticed that I had three choices of coping: In, Out, or Up.  Let me explain.

3 Ways of Coping: In, Out, or Up

In

This type of coping is generally internal.  We choose to keep things inside, bottle them up, internalize emotions, process quietly, possibly wallow.  We may believe that we are simply “boxing up” the difficulty, perhaps to save it for a better time.  People around us may comment that we are “strong” because it’s hard to see that we are even experiencing a difficulty, as we are certainly not wearing it on our sleeve.  In general, we are counting on ourselves to heal ourselves when we follow “In Coping.”

“I can do this.”  “This ____ won’t get me down.”  “I’m better/smarter/stronger than that.”  

“No one else could possibly understand this.” “It’s too hard to share.” 

These are just a few phrases we might use when we are internalizing our coping.

Out

This type of coping is generally external and inclusive, meaning we are looking to someone or something else to help us manage our difficulty.  What or whom we seek out varies immensely.  We may seek out people, even to the point of clinging to them as we would a lifeline.  We may seek out escape items such as food, drink, drugs, tv, sex, pornography, gambling, extreme hobbies…anything that will help us escape the difficulty.

“I need a drink.”  “Call me back, I NEED to talk to you.”  “When I _______, I don’t even think about ________.”

Again, just a few phrases we may hear when we are externalizing our coping.

Up

This type of coping is the kind that allows you, even when fallen to the floor, to look up and seek God’s face.  Listen, I know this is the obvious “good way to cope.”  What believer doesn’t know that seeking God would be a good way to cope?  What believer doesn’t know this is the winning answer?  Deep in our hearts, as Christians, we know that our best method of coping would be to reach out to God to help us.

Yet, this method of coping is often the last one we choose.  Oftentimes, it’s more likely to be our “last resort.”  We are “reduced to prayer.”  How sad does that sound….reduced to prayer.  Sigh.

Seek the Kingdom of God first, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  Matthew 6:33 NLT

Here’s the deal, it’s not that we can’t utilize the IN and OUT coping strategies.  BUT when we seek those methods FIRST, we are less likely to utilize them in a healthy, godly way.

When we seek God first, He will lead us to HEALTHY, GODLY coping methods.

The IN and OUT will look different when we seek UP first.

So, when God is sought out at the first sight of difficulty, we can certainly use IN and spend quality time in thought and prayer, processing what just happened with clear leading from the Holy Spirit, who lives IN US.

When we “go to the throne instead of the phone,” He will lead us to healthy external methods of coping….such as sending us to godly friends who will pray with us and keep us accountable or  introducing us to healthy habits like walking out in nature or taking an art class.

If we follow the OUT method without seeking God first, it’s highly unlikely we will seek out godly coping mechanisms.

Coping internally and externally are not necessarily bad, as long as God is guiding you first.

Confession time again.  In this season of difficulty, I have made some good choices in coping methods and I have made some poor choices.  My own choices are the main reason that I wanted to focus on coping this month.  I wanted to learn more about how, as a believer, I can cope with difficulty in a more godly way.  I hope you don’t mind exploring that with me.

In my next blog post, we will talk more specifically about tangible ways that we can cope well, in a godly way, with difficulty.

Friends, may we all seek God first in all we do, not just in hard times.  Knowing Him is what we need most in our lives and will lead us to cope well with all that life throws at us.

www.sidebysideministry.org

 

5:17

May is a month of celebrating for us….especially for me (Lisa).  The month of May includes our wedding anniversary, my birthday, and Mother’s Day.  Big win for me! 😉

Our wedding anniversary is May 17th and this year we will be celebrating 16 years of marriage.  Each year, we find a new way to celebrate.  Some years are bigger than others. (10 years was a trip to Italy…oh, if only all the anniversary celebrations could be that!)

Whether a simple dinner together, a thoughtful gift, or a getaway, we make a point of doing something out of the ordinary to celebrate the extraordinary.

We make a point of doing something out of the ordinary to celebrate the extraordinary.

It is EXTRAORDINARY that we are married for 16 years!  We don’t take that for granted.  Half of marriages end in divorce.  And many end in the first seven years.  We are beating the odds.  That is something to celebrate and thank God for!

Here’s the question, though….when should we celebrate that? Only when that wedding anniversary rolls around?  NO WAY!  We need to celebrate as much as possible.

When we celebrate our marriage, it is more likely we will actually stay married.  

When we look at our marriage as just another part of our existence, the union can quickly become stagnant.

When we view our marriage as anything other than extraordinary, that is exactly what it becomes…anything other than extraordinary.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be in an extraordinary marriage!  I want to rock this marriage thing!  I want to look at my husband every day and say, YES!!! I AM SO BLESSED!!!  And I want him to wonder to himself, HOW DID I EVER GET SO LUCKY TO MARRY HER!

Part of making that dream a reality is simply choosing to celebrate!  Here’s one way we celebrate our marriage.  It’s super simple but highly effective.

Our anniversary date is 5/17.  So, when it’s 5:17AM/PM, and we notice it, we acknowledge it to the other in some way.  If I am sitting at my computer writing and I see that it is 5:17pm on my screen, I stop what I am doing and send my husband a text, “5:17.”

That’s it, you say?  Yep, that’s it.  That is one very simple way that we celebrate our marriage.  We each know that our spouse has stopped everything in the middle of their day to acknowledge our extraordinary marriage.  No money spent, no trip taken, not even actual words.

If we are together when it’s 5:17, one of us will say “5:17” and usually we will give a quick kiss and move on with what we were doing.  Sometimes, it will produce a conversation or further encouragement.  Either way, it is a beautifully simple way to celebrate US.

How are you celebrating your extraordinary marriage?  How can you add celebrations throughout your week?

We would love it if you would share with us your ideas on how we all can be celebrating our marriages daily!  

Follow us on Facebook or Instagram and join the conversation!

 

 

 

My Own Worst Enemy.

Romans 7:15 I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.

There are some days that I literally look at myself in the mirror and say, “what were you thinking?”  Or I look behind me to see who my husband is staring at in horror only to realize he’s looking at me…because of something I just said or did.  And I think to myself, “How did that even just happen?”

Have you ever felt like that?  (Please tell me I am not alone!)

Well, actually, I know I am not alone, because the Apostle Paul tells us about something similar in his letter to the Romans.  And I gotta tell you…I really love this verse.  Not because I want to hear that Paul messes up.  Back up…yes, it IS because I want to hear that Paul–the Apostle, amazing follower of Jesus who led multiple people groups to the saving power of Jesus Christ–wasn’t perfect.  He made mistakes.  He did things he didn’t like and didn’t understand why.  Even the great Paul was a sinner….just like me.

I imagine him saying, “I am my own worst enemy.”

(It’s actually the sin within us that is the enemy, but I will get to that)

So, if the things that I do, the things I don’t understand but I know are wrong are coming from ME….then I am the only one that can change them.

If I am my own worst enemy, I–with the power of God–need to choose to change those things.

It’s super easy to look at others (especially those that are in close proximity-like your spouse) and see what they are doing that you don’t understand or things that you hate.  It’s easy to label them the enemy.  We seem to prefer to have other people to blame–scapegoats for our issues.

It’s not easy to look within ourselves and see the things we truly dislike, even hate.  And then, imagine being like Paul and publicly professing it!  What?!

Who wants to admit that they don’t have control over themselves?  Who wants to tell their spouse, or neighbor, or friend that they are doing something they don’t like to do?  It’s not such a fun task.

BUT it’s freedom.  Confession of sin is part of the process of growth.  Admitting our own faults–rather than focusing on everyone else’s–frees us to heal and grow.

We are always going to have sin.  We will always have something we are doing that we probably wish we weren’t.  But when we seek God to identify them, confess them and free ourselves from them, we have greatly lessened our burden and drawn closer to God.    That’s a win, in my eyes!

Sin (those things we hate that we do) separate us from God.

So, technically, I am not my own worst enemy.  My sin is most own worst enemy.  I am a child of God who daily needs to make the choice to kick that enemy out and make lots of room for the God I love.  The more I do that, the more open I am to loving those around me.

What do you do that you hate?  How can you ask God to help you remove it?

 

It’s just a rental.

We recently moved from South Florida to North Carolina. We decided to rent a house rather than buy in order to take some time to get to know the area.

We have been homeowners for years. Going back into the rental market has been a bit strange. We are also landlords of a rental property, so it is especially odd to be on the other side of the transaction.

Inevitably, whether as a renter or a landlord, this statement is used frequently:

It’s just a rental.

As a renter, we may say….It’s just a rental. It’s not our permanent home. It’s not ours. We are not responsible for it. It doesn’t have the same value as a home that we own. We won’t “gussy it up” cause we won’t be here long.

As a landlord, we may say…it’s just a rental. We aren’t going to treat it like a “real home.” I am not going to furnish it with top notch finishes, because I am not sure the renters will care for it well. Not like an owner would care for it.

So, we have been unpacking boxes for what feels like YEARS. It’s actually been about 2 weeks….but it feels like the boxes will never be empty. While unpacking, my husband suggested that we just keep all our wall art packed up since…you guessed it, it’s just rental.

He rationalized that we are only going to be here for a short while, and why bother hanging up all the photos and artwork just to take it down and pack it up again when we buy a house.

I get it. It’s a lot of work. But empty walls for up to a year seems a bit depressing to me. Even though it’s a rental, I desire to feel at home.

Even so, the other day, I had the choice of organizing something well or just “making do.” I made do….cause, you know, it’s just a rental.

This got me thinking. Both of us, in our own ways, are treating just about everything differently because of our perspective as renters versus owners. It seems that just about every decision we have made, however minor it may be, is affected by the fact that we do not own this house….it’s just a rental.

What if we all viewed our marriages as “just a rental?”

 

What if we went into our marriages thinking in the back of our minds that we may not be here long? No need to care for it because we aren’t sure it will work? Or we can always just break the lease. Or move on to the next rental when this lease was up? Or find a better rental when we are “better?”

Sadly, many people in our society DO think this way. They enter into the union of marriage with a clause, whether written or unwritten, said or unsaid, stating that this marriage may not be permanent. That there is an out. That essentially…it’s just a rental. When we have that perspective, it skews our nearly every decision we make, whether consciously or unconsciously.

 

With the perspective of “possibly temporary,” we are setting ourselves up for a high probability of that becoming a reality.

When we were repairing our marriage after near-divorce, we realized that both of us entered into the marriage with that perspective. It wasn’t discussed. It wasn’t written. But it was there. And it definitely affected the way we interacted in our marriage.

A renter uses. An owner invests.

We need to OWN our marriages. We must go into marriage with an “all in” mentality. Any other perspective is one that will likely lead to despair.

When we began the healing of our broken marriage, we made an agreement that we were both ALL IN for our marriage. There was no out. We decided to OWN our marriage…to invest completely in our newly God-centered union.

So, when we have a disagreement or a season of difficulty, we know that we both will fully invest in working it out. We are fully invested in our marriage.

Think of it this way. Let’s say the sink is backed up in your rental. You might just deal with it. You might throw some Draino down there….you may even call the landlord to tend to it. But you might not be so concerned with the fact that there could be a much bigger problem in the pipes. It’s not your problem…it’s just a rental.

But when you own a home and your sink won’t drain, you tend to get your plumber there as soon as possible so that you can diagnose the issue, repair the problem and be sure there isn’t any other hidden damage. You own the place and you plan to be there a long time. The last thing you want is a plumbing issue that could cause huge problems in your home.

When there is a problem in your marriage, which approach do you take?

Do you find a quick fix solution to the latest problem? Do you apply a band-aid, so to speak, or even completely ignore difficulties, hoping they will just go away?

Or do you actively pursue the root cause, investing and repairing in a healthy way, so that your marriage can continue to thrive and flourish?

Are you fully invested in your marriage, knowing that you are one until death parts you?

Do you OWN your marriage? Or is it….just a rental?

Not Feeling The Love?

Do you ever have those moments where you don’t seem to love your spouse much? Or do you feel like your marriage is a little stagnant or even headed on a steady, downward slope? Do you look at your relationship as if it’s an outdated room in desperate need of updating?

You are not alone. All marriages have ups and downs. All spouses have days or weeks or even years, sadly, where they feel “in a slump” or like they are just making it through each day, without much genuine love or connection. I believe that those who say they have not experienced this are just lying..to us or themselves.

There are a multitude of reasons for marriage to end up in this kind of slump. There are several ways that one can end up wondering how to possible muster up a shred of love for the person they sleep next to every night.

Even though there are a million reasons for this problem, we believe there is only one solution.

When we were in the beginning of healing our very broken marriage, we realized a profound truth that has stuck with us to this day.

The more we love God, the more we are capable of loving our spouse.

If we have become stagnant in our faith, it’s highly likely our marriage is becoming stale as well.

If we are not seeking ways to love God, it’s likely we are not seeking ways to love our spouse.

You see, when we are filling our cups with God’s love, not only are we able to pour that love out on others, but our actual cup is expanded.

It’s like a supernatural expansion of our love space!

Very little room for God in our life = very little room for love of others.

Lots of room for God in our life = lots of room for love of others.

Seeking God is like welcoming an HGTV designer into our dilapidated love space to do a complete remodel and addition!

So, if you are in that stagnant, stale place in your marriage, where you just can’t seem to “feel the love,” may we recommend that you renovate your relationship with God so HE can completely remodel your marriage.

Stop just surviving in your marriage and start thriving!

Side By Side Ministry exists to see ALL marriages God-centered and thriving…including yours.

Nothing changing?

Happy New Year! If you are reading this, you have been blessed with the gift of another day to get it right! Congratulations!

It’s always around this time of year that we look to right wrongs, increase our happiness, or change things for the better. It’s a time of renewal…a new year! But renewal requires change. Things can’t stay the same AND be renewed…it doesn’t work that way. If we want things to be different, we have to change them.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Sit on that statement for a minute. No, really. Read it again. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Are you wishing for your marriage to be better?

Are you hoping your spouse will have more time for you this year?

Are you sick of running the rat race each week with your family’s commitments?

Do you long for time to yourself?

Are you dreaming of a deeper understanding of God’s plan for your life?

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Many times, when we desire change, we are waiting for someone else to change. We don’t usually focus on how WE can change something. It’s SO much easier to see how someone else can change.

Guess what? You can’t change them.

You can only change YOU. If you want change in the new year, you need to make change.

Yep. You.

I am living proof of this concept. I spent the first half of my marriage with a laundry list of ways my husband needed to change. If only he did this. If only he would that. What did that list get me? An ego and a broken marriage. That’s what it got me.

It was not until I was willing to change that change began to occur. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Does this mean your spouse or your circumstance doesn’t need to change? No. They are not off the hook, especially if there are genuine issues that need to be changed and resolved. But you cannot force that change in them. You can only make the change in you first, and pray that God will help them to see it.

You see, change is contagious. When you make a positive change, those around you will see it and, if it truly is a GOOD change, they will want to be a part of it.

BUT…nothing changes if nothing changes.

Change is hard. Change can be scary. And change can be amazing. There’s a great quote, “Be the change you want to see,” and it hits the nail on the head. If you want to see change in your life in 2018, seek God’s guidance, humble yourself and be the change you want to see.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

One more BEST gift to give your spouse this season (part two).

A couple weeks ago, I shared with you HERE about the first of two of the best gifts you can give your spouse. Read more here!

It’s only a matter of days before Christmas is here. Have you gotten something for your spouse? Have you been able to figure what is the “perfect” gift for them? If not, you have come the right place! I have the perfect gift idea for you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a wife or a husband that you are gifting. It doesn’t matter if they are the pickiest person on the planet. It doesn’t even matter if you are not a big fan of your spouse right now. With this gift, one size fits all.

So, drum roll, please. Brrrr…..Brrrr….Brrrr….. (does that sound like drum roll to you??)

The best gift you can give your spouse (other than the one I mentioned in THIS blog post) is:

Time.

Give your time.

Yes, you heard me right. One of the best gifts you can give your spouse is your time.

One of the best ways to see what your priorities are is to look at your calendar. What is taking up most of your time? I know, you are going to tell me “well, duh, work…but I have to work.” Yes, a bulk of your time is work. And another bulk of your time is sleep. But what about that time in between. How are you spending that time?

You may “see” your spouse during that margin time…but do you intentionally spend quality time putting them first in your life? (Just being in the same room with your spouse while you make lunches for the kids or figure out the monthly budget doesn’t count). I am talking about time that you set aside to focus solely on your spouse….fulfilling a need of theirs, planning a special outing with them, going out of your way to show them (not just tell them) how much you love and appreciate them.

What does time quality time look like? And how do you gift it?

That is going to be different for everyone. And please do not give me the excuse that you don’t have the money for a babysitter or you don’t have time in your schedule for a regular date night or you couldn’t possibly go out of town for a night because the kids…or the job…or your dog need you and only you. Stop that. You are married. To someone that you really love. Someone that, when you first met them, you couldn’t bear to be apart from.

If you want something to happen, you will make it happen. Swap date night babysitting with another couple. Go for a walk on the beach or a hike in the woods instead of a pricey dinner out. Sit on the back porch with a favorite board game. (Ladies, there are a million cheap date ideas on Pinterest…go nuts!)

Sure,that honeymoon phase may be over, so to speak. But only because you choose it to be so. We all have a choice to put time and effort into our marriages in order to keep that spark going…in order to “keep that love alive.”

In order to stay fully connected to your spouse, you need TIME.

Not fancy gifts. Not a family vacation. Not even a double date with another couple. Quality time for just the two of you.

How do you give that as a gift?

How does “time” get wrapped up and placed under the Christmas tree?

One of Steve’s favorite gifts I have given him is a book of handmade coupons for all different kinds of quality time…things that are meaningful to us and things we enjoy doing together. All throughout the year, he could just hand me a coupon and I would do my best to make it happen as quickly as possible. Important: it included many things that he loves and I could take or leave. It was a sacrificial book of coupons for quality time. (Example: I am not a fan of going to movie theaters, but Steve is, so “going out to a movie” was a coupon.)

If you want to be a bit more extravagant, maybe you can plan and reserve a full day together, doing things that your spouse loves or both of you love. Or plan to visit the place you first met. Or get everything you need to work on a special project together.

If you are really craving dedicated time alone, plan a vacation or even one night away at a place that your spouse loves. And then go a step further and plan out details of your time that are focused on your spouses needs and desires.

If you tend to “wonder where the time went” on a regular basis, may I recommend that you set up several date days or nights in advance, including reserving a table or buying the tickets, so you are accountable to and committed to making that quality time happen.

If you still want to get your spouse the newest gadget or dazzling jewelry, consider attaching TIME to it. So, if you got your husband the latest runner’s watch, perhaps you could plan to run with him once a week. Or if you purchased that special pair of earrings for your wife, possibly you could plan a surprise dinner out with an outfit picked out for her to wear, including the earrings.

There are endless possibilities for you to give time.

You just need to make the choice to give it. If you genuinely have no idea how your spouse would want to spend time with you, ask. Seriously, just ask. Even the act of asking is sacrificial and loving. It’s a great start to connecting with your spouse this season.

We are praying that there will be a whole lotta time wrapped up under the tree this year!!

Merry Christmas!

The best gift to give your spouse this year! (Part 1)

I spent several of the early years of our marriage a prideful, arrogant, self-centered person. What does this have to do with gifts, you ask? Well, in that selfishness, I had very strong opinions of how gift-giving needed to occur in our house. I made it very clear that I wanted us to give each other surprise gifts for birthdays and holidays. My rational behind that…I believed that we should know each other well enough to pick out the perfect gift without the other person telling what they wanted. Yep, that was me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love surprises and I am blessed with a husband who enjoys surprising me. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to be genuinely surprised. But I set an expectation–an unrealistically high expectation–that ultimately set us both up for failure.

But I set up an expectation—an unrealistically high expectation—that ultimately set us both up for failure.

So, every year, we were trying to outdo the last year. Or if we really bombed a gift (for example, the seven-person tent with pet cabin that I received for my birthday when he was the only one complaining about the current tent we used…just sayin’), then we were working overtime to try to make up for it at the following holiday. So, pressure. LOTS OF PRESSURE. At a time that we were supposed to be celebrating. What a drag.

I also set the stipulation that I never wanted to just get a gift for both of us. So, if we both really wanted a new camera but it’s pricey and we can only afford to get it if we forego giving each other individual gifts? No way! I was not willing to “change the rules.” So, no camera….and instead something that has a 50/50 shot of being “just what I wanted.”

What changed?

What caused me to change the rules, so to speak? Well, when our marriage started to get rocky, I read The Five Love Languages. (If you haven’t read this book, please click on the link and get it!).

When I took the test to find out what my “love language” was, it came out as GIFTS. At first I was like, duh, of course it is. But as I continued to read and really think about it, I realized that our current circumstances were actually skewing the results of my test.

Hear me out. I realized that the only way I was experiencing “love” from Steve was when he gave me gifts. At the time, things were rough, and so the gifts–for a short amount of time–made up for the things that were missing in our marriage.

Then I had to go back a bit further…into my childhood. LONG story short, the only “love” that I received from my biological father was gifts. So, as an adult, I was placing an extremely HIGH VALUE on gifts because they represented love when actual love was nowhere to be found.

Bring it home, Lisa….what does your personal childhood journey have to do with a gift for my spouse? What is this BEST GIFT I can give to my spouse??

The best gift you can give your spouse is:

LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

If you have a spouse who cares for you and loves you and provides for your needs, you are so loved and THAT is a huge gift. Stop setting standards that they cannot ever reach. Use your heart of gratitude (that you hopefully cultivated during last month’s “attitude of gratitude”) and be grateful for the little things. Be grateful for the moments. Be grateful for all of it. Even the 7-person tent with pet cabin. Because your spouse spent time to pick that up JUST FOR YOU. It IS truly the thought that counts. And if you have a hard time lowering those expectations…then MAKE THEM KNOWN. Don’t be like me in those early years, and expect them to guess what you want or need. Just tell them. (I am especially speaking to you, ladies!).

Don’t be like me in those early years and expect them to guess what you want or need.

And if you are looking to those gifts as the only way you experience love from your spouse, you may want to spend some time in prayer contemplating why that is. Because you may be putting a lot of weight on those gifts because something else–something important–is missing from your relationship. In that case, a diamond necklace or fancy tv will not solve it. Get to the root of that. (Check out Five Love Languages or Rescue Your Love Life)

During this Christmas season, when we are inundated with marketing tactics advertising the “next best gift,” resist the urge to EXPECT that perfect gift. Instead, lower those expectations and focus on more important things….like the Messiah whose birth we celebrate and the wonderful spouse He gave you.

In Everything?

In everything, give thanks.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

In everything?

Really?  In Ev-er-y-thing?  In everything, we should give thanks?  You know you have asked that question.  Especially at this time of year, as we are about the celebrate Thanksgiving, we see this verse…and we probably think to ourselves…well, not EVERYthing.

I mean, how can I be thankful for natural disaster? For death? For illness?  For depression? For loss of a job or home? For my overbearing boss?  For my annoying sister? For my spouse’s annoying habits? For MOSQUITOS?!

The Bible clearly says, IN EVERYTHING.  Sigh.

Check out a portion of an article* from Bible.org about this verse and those surrounding it….

This command means that in every situation we are to give thanks to our sovereign and good God and Savior. In Ephesians 5:20, Paul puts it, “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” Giving thanks in every situation does not mean that we must be happy with every situation or resigned to accept matters without praying and working for change.

Also, we don’t need to feel thankful before we give thanks. When God takes us through hard trials, we don’t feel thankful. But by faith we can say, “Lord, I trust that You are good and that You know what You’re doing in this difficult situation. I submit to Your sovereign hand and purpose, knowing that You will work it together for my good.” So, like rejoicing always, giving thanks in everything is often a choice to believe God in difficult circumstances.

When we are connected to God and trusting Him and His plan for our lives, we are able to have gratitude in all circumstances.  (Read more about my “attitude of gratitude!”)

So many times this past year, I have looked at a difficult circumstance and saw a situation devoid of anything worthy of being thankful for.  My humanness, my flesh, my sinful nature could not see past the weight of the circumstance.

Then the Holy Spirit intervened.  Gratitude began to replace fear…or hurt…or dismay.

God is above all circumstance in life.  God knows.  He sees what we are facing.  And He knows the outcome.  These truths alone are things we can easily be grateful for!!

We have a God who loves us, knows what we face, will protect us, and ultimately has ALREADY saved us from the worst.

When we believe in the saving grace of Jesus and His defeat over the grave, we can be grateful IN EVERYTHING!

Not FOR everything.  (We don’t really need to be grateful for the mosquitos, ok?)  But, as believers, we can be grateful IN this life, even in the darkest moments of this life.

Our challenge is to truly have a heart of gratitude in those difficult moments.  It’s easy to be thankful when things are going well.  It’s so challenging to be thankful when they aren’t.

Guess what?  When we are able to grow our gratitude, we change the way we view those moments.  A heart filled with gratitude doesn’t have room for fear, anger, and resentment.  Rather, it opens us up for things like joy, peace, patience, forgiveness and mercy.

“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.”

In this life, I don’t think God expects us to be grateful FOR everything…..but He does ask that we be grateful IN everything.  And because of His love for us, we are able to do just that.

In everything, give thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

www.sidebysideministry.org

*Read more on this subject through the link below.

https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-20-three-impossible-commands-1-thessalonians-516-18

Attitude of Gratitude?

Is it really November already?

Is it already time for the busy holiday season?  I don’t know about you, but when November rolls around, I sometimes feel like a bull in the ring, blowing smoke out of my nostrils, and kicking up dust….readying myself to bust through the next two months of gatherings, events, shopping, and doing, doing, doing.

Even just writing that, I am exhausted.  I would venture to say that many of us feel this way, if we are honest with ourselves.  There are even songs written about the craziness of the holiday season.

It’s not shocking that our attitude would be like that of the bull, ready to charge!

Let’s look at the two main holidays that we are about to celebrate.  Thanksgiving.  A holiday where we gather with family and friends to show our thankfulness for the bounty that has been given.  A time to take stock, so to speak, on the blessings we have received, not only as children of God, but as citizens of a free nation.  A time to show those around us that we love them…by sitting shoulder to shoulder watching a sporting event, or chatting over pumpkin pie.

And then Christmas.  A holiday that has been taken over by commercialism, but is meant to be the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  A time to love God and thank Him for sending the Messiah as a babe, to one day save each and every one of us from our sins and bring us to be with Him in eternity.

In the next two months, we have been given the gift of time to worship God and love His people.

We can be grateful for that gift.

Are we? Coming into the “holiday season,” do we have an attitude of gratitude?  Or are we getting ready to charge through it HEAD FIRST (not HEART first!) so we can just “make it through?”  Be honest with yourself.

In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is.  This is his reply…

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

We have been given an opportunity to:

  1. Love God.
  2. Love our neighbor.

In the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are being handed a platform in order to do the greatest of the commandments!  What a gift! But do we have an attitude of gratitude?  I’ll go first….I don’t!  I can sometimes go into this season with a dread of what is to come.  And that mindset-that dread-will color all the things I do and all the encounters I have.  What a shame.

I don’t want to do that this year.  I want to change my attitude!

I want an attitude of gratitude!

I want to be grateful for the time that I have been given to do God’s will….to love Him and His people.  I want to truly worship Him for what He has done in my life.  I want to wake up in the morning with a grateful heart and a yearning to love the people around me, even and especially the ones who are so very unlovable!

Will you join me?

Let’s do this!  Let’s enter this holiday season with an attitude of gratitude!

In the comments below or on our Facebook or Instagram page, share with us how you will make that shift in your attitude.  Let’s help each other…spur each other on, encourage each other to have an attitude of gratitude this season.

www.sidebysideministry.org

 

 

 

3 Important Ways to Prepare for a Storm.

So, in case you hadn’t heard, Hurricane Irma paid us a visit last month.  Only shortly after Hurricane Harvey made a devastating visit to our friends in Texas.

Storms happen.

Plain and simple.  Storms are a part of life, literally and figuratively.

Now, I could write for days on how to prepare for a literal storm, since I just spent hours and hour researching about what we needed to do in preparation for Irma.  But I feel called to focus on the figurative storms in life.  The ones that have nothing to do with “mother nature” and everything to do with our heart.

How can we be prepared for the storms of life?

Is it even possible to be prepared for a storm when you feel blindsided by one?  I believe it is possible.

So, here are three questions to ask yourself in order to see if you are prepared for a storm:

1.  Where is God?

Is He the center of your life?  Is He the one you turn to when things go wrong?  Are you making decisions in your life based on what He tells you through the Bible?

Be honest with yourself.  You are not preparing yourself well by fooling yourself.  If you are a Christian, you “know” the right thing to say here. But is is a fact in your life?

Or is God being placed lower and lower on your priority list?  Are you having to remind yourself to spend time with Him, only to find at the end of a long day that you “couldn’t find time.”

When your relationship with God is solid, that is a firm foundation that no storm can destroy.

Having God placed at the center of your life is VITAL to being well-prepared for a storm.

2.  Where are you?

Look around you.  Are you in a “good place?”  When I am not doing well mentally, I will say to Steve, “I am not in a good place.”  What I mean is that something is off…something in my life is causing everything to falter.

So, where should you be? What is a “good place?”  Well, that is different for each of us.  I will dare to say that much of my good place depends on the answer to my first question, Where is God?, in my life. But there are other factors, too.  Is there a sour relationship occurring?  Do I have work piled up that I have ignored or been too busy to get to?  Have my husband and I had quality time together?  Is my time being spent wisely? Am I surrounding myself with like-minded, godly people?  Do I feel mentored as a parent or wife or ministry leader? Do I have people in my life that I trust and am accountable to? Am I enjoying life, truly enjoying it?  Are my healthy desires being met?  Am I achieving goals?  The list goes on and on.

Think of it this way…if you are going to have to stay in one place for an extended period of time while a storm rages outside, you want it to be a nice spot.  No one wants to hole up in the gas station bathroom during a storm.  Ick.  We’d all prefer to be in a comfortable home, preferably with a huge generator and a stocked pantry.  It changes how you experience the storm.

Where YOU are–good place or not so good place–changes how you experience the storm.

Don’t stay in the “gas station bathroom” place.  Make the changes necessary in order to be in the fully stocked comfortable home when that storm hits.

3.  Are you ready to do what it takes?

This is huge, friends.  Are you ready to truly do what it takes to not only make it through the storm, but thrive in the middle of it?  This takes grit and determination.  It takes humility and grace.   It usually requires forgiveness and sacrifice.  It always requires faith. 

The answer to this question is also dependent on the answer to question #1 and even question #2.  With God, all things are possible.  Without God, it’s super hard and even impossible.  And if you are in a bad place BEFORE the storm, it’s even more difficult to rally strength and perseverance once the storm hits.

When a storm comes, there is so much to focus on.  You need to brace yourself, expect the unexpected, protect yourself from danger, protect others around you, and so on.  Then after the storm, the focus is different but still all-consuming.  So, though you may be tempted to do a quick clean-up and move on, I encourage you to stay focused on the details of the storm and what it takes to completely heal, live well and even be better than you were before the storm.

Doing what it takes requires focus and sacrifice.

When preparing for Irma, my usual schedule went out the window.  I couldn’t possibly focus on all my normal daily tasks while also taking on the added stress of preparing our family for what could have been a catastrophic storm.  Don’t get me wrong, I did the things that HAD to get done, but any extras or those items that weren’t necessary were removed.

The same thing applies with a figurative storm.  You have to dig your heels in and hyper-focus on the task at hand.  You can’t expect to keep status quo on all the other areas of your life while you are trying to battle an enemy in one area.

We speak to couples in crisis a lot.  And we have experienced many couples that have a difficult time accepting that repairing damage in a marriage requires sacrificing in other areas of life.  In this day and age, we are all so busy and lives are filled with schedules and appointments and tasks and jobs and lists and this and that.  Something has to give, friends!

And sometimes it’s the things you really like or the things your kids really like.  If your marriage counseling sessions are scheduled during baseball practice, then it might be that your child needs to skip this season.  Or maybe you need to step down from that leadership team while you sort out a family crisis.  Maybe your spouse needs to change jobs in order to be home more while you battle an illness.  You cannot continue at your usual pace and with your usual priorities while a storm is wreaking havoc on your life.  You just can’t.

I know of a couple that sold their beautiful home and moved their family of five to a small apartment in order to reduce their spending so they could get out of debt.  It is a big sacrifice for their entire family.  But the sacrifice is nothing compared to the peace they are experiencing in the decision to rid themselves of the weight of financial burden.

Prioritize.  Be ready to do what it takes.

God will lead you.  The Holy Spirit will prompt you to what needs to go or stay.  Listen to Him!  Lean NOT on your own understanding, but in ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your path. (Proverbs 3:5-6, my emphasis)

In the storms of life, we need to:

1. Keep God at the center.

2. Create a life of peace, love and joy.

3. Be prepared to prioritize and sacrifice.

Hurricane Irma was the largest hurricane in recorded U.S. history.  But I felt safe.  I trusted God and His plan for me.  I was in a “good place” where there was no room for fear.  And I was prepared for extreme sacrifice.  May it be so in the next storms in my life…and yours.

 

 

 

 

Say YES to joy!

Have you ever said to yourself, “When THIS happens, THEN I will feel joy.”  Or “once we get through this tough time, I will feel better.”  It seems nearly impossible to experience joy in the middle of a tough time.

How can we even consider being joyful when the stresses of life are whirling around us?

Here’s How!

The joy of the Lord is your strength.  Nehemiah 8:10

Friends, having joy is what actually helps you get through that tough time!  Yep, it’s true.  The joy of the Lord is your strength!

We tend to think that joy comes AFTER a tough time.  But, according to the Bible, joy needs to be present at ALL times in order for us to experience the full strength that God is offering us.  We tend to get it backwards.

It’s the joy of the Lord that will carry us through a tough time, not what we receive after the tough time.

I am not talking about happiness.  Happiness and joy are two different things.  Happiness is circumstantial.  Joy is way deeper than that.  Joy comes from God.  The stronger your relationship is with God, the more and more you experience His joy, even in the middle of difficult seasons.

Don’t wait until the storm passes to experience joy.  Praise God in the midst of trouble.  Open your heart to His goodness even while you may be suffering.  The joy of the Lord is your strength!  Memorize this verse, so that you can repeat it to yourself whenever you are tempted to let that joy slip away.

Say YES to joy!

What are you reflecting?

Driving with my 4-year-old as a dark storm brewed above, my son asks me, “What are those flashlights on the road?”  I respond, “reflectors.”  As any innocent seeker of knowledge would respond, he asks, “Who turned them on?”

I began to explain to him that no one turned them on, that they are actually reflecting the light off of my headlights.  Of course, he asked me WHY. (If you are a parent, you know that this conversation was FILLED with “whys.”)  I explained to him that it was to help me see where to drive while it was dark.

The idea of reflection was very puzzling to him.  So I began to find other examples of reflection in order to help him understand.  With full credit to the Holy Spirit, here is the best example I gave him:

Our car’s headlights are like God.  They are shining love and light into a dark world.  We are like reflectors.  We soak up God’s love and light, and then shine it out to others.  When they see God’s love reflected through us, they are able to see God’s path better. 

We aren’t the ones leading them…God is.  We have an important job, though.  We have a choice: we can receive God’s light and keep it all to ourselves, not letting any of it out.  Or we can receive His love and then share it with those around us.  God wants us to share it!

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  2 Corinthians 4:6

I have to be honest with you…lately, it’s been easier for me to receive God’s love and light than to share it.  Sometimes it feels risky sharing God’s light, because people have a choice to ignore it or ridicule it or refuse it.  As a Christian, it can feel like a personal rejection when someone rejects the love of God we are trying to reflect to them.  It’s not an easy task…being a “reflector.”

This is where obedience comes in.  That little reflector on the road isn’t responsible for making sure I, the driver, am looking at it.  It’s simply responsible for reflecting light.  That’s it.  Our job is not to change people or save people.  Our job is simply to reflect the light of God to all whom we encounter.  God, in His infinite wisdom, will do the rest.

Are you reflecting God’s light to those around you?

 

There’s no hope.

“There’s no hope.”

Have you ever found yourself saying that?  Have you ever found yourself in a circumstance where you truly believed there wasn’t an ounce of hope to be found?  Maybe you are experiencing that right now.  Maybe you are watching a friend or loved one wallow in that statement.

I have experienced that.  I remember, when we were experiencing rocky times in our marriage, and I had just started going back to church, I felt hopeless.  Odd, right? Why would I feel hopeless when I was just re-introduced to the God of hope? Well, I hadn’t yet fully committed my life to God, so I was partially blind to His extreme power….and to His grace.

My hopelessness came when God started to show me, through His word, all that I was doing against His will.  It was a super humbling time for me.

Shame took over.

I was so ashamed at how I had been living my life that I couldn’t see past it.  I was only focusing on the mistakes I had made and not on the grace and forgiveness that God was freely handing me.

I looked at what a terrible, disrespectful wife I had been and my husband, who had one foot out the door, and I couldn’t see hope…I only saw failure.

(To this day, I continue to work on my very black and white view of things… I am hard-wired to wrongly believe that if I am not “perfect” that I have somehow failed.  Those thoughts DO NOT come from God)

Even in those days where I felt hopeless and I thought that my marriage was a “lost cause,” I continued to seek God’s guidance through His word.  This verse came up:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Romans 15:13

How was I going to experience hope? In believing!  See how that is worded? Let me break it down in the way God revealed it to me.

He is the God of hope.

He wants me to have joy and peace.

I will have joy and peace by believing.

When I fully believe, the power of the Holy Spirit will be in me.

Through the Spirit of God, I will experience overflowing hope!

Bottom line??  When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives, there is ALWAYS HOPE!  When we place our hope in Him, we experience joy and peace.  He does this through His Spirit, which lives in all believers.

Now, if you are like me, you might be saying…..yeah, yeah, I know all that….BUT this circumstance is really hopeless….THIS MISTAKE is too terrible…..THIS person is beyond repair.

Friends, I get it.  Sometimes what we are going through fills our minds completely and there is no room for God’s truth. 

SBS Social Media Images (3)

I picture it like this….when you are taking a photo of a beautiful landscape and you accidentally put your finger in front of the camera.  There is a huge, gorgeous world waiting for you to capture it, and your little finger has now completely covered it.  Your finger looks “huge” because it’s taking up the whole shot….but in actuality, it’s small, just a finger…and not nearly as vast and majestic as the landscape you were about to capture.

Our hopeless circumstance seems huge, but it’s just a little finger compared to the majesty of our God.  Don’t let the circumstances of life, no matter how hopeless they may seem, rob you of capturing the majesty of God and carrying it with you all your days.

Shame was that “finger” for me.  It covered the beautiful landscape God was placing before me.  Eventually, through sticking with Him and continuing to strengthen my faith, I was able to see that His forgiveness and love and grace was there even before my shame took over…I just had to see it and accept it.  Once I did, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I was overflowing with hope!  That hope carried me through even darker days ahead.

Placing your trust in God and receiving His hope doesn’t mean that hopeless circumstance is going to get “fixed” in the way you desire or anticipate.  Remember, God is in charge.  Trust Him.  He knows you, He knows what you truly need.  And He loves you with a love you can’t even imagine.

May you abound in hope, friends!

15th Anniversary Fundraiser Event Recap + Testimonials

Have you ever been on a road trip and looked around at all the other people in cars and thought to yourself…where are they going? Or where have they been? Sometimes, I will look over at a car and see that it’s the same person that was in line next to me at the last rest stop.  Or I will see that someone I passed earlier in the day is now passing by me.  We are all on a journey, seemingly going along on the same path in the same direction.  But when you look closely, though we travel along simultaneously, we are having vastly different experiences at varying paces.

Recently, we shared Side By Side: Our Journey From Hurt to Hope at our 15th Wedding Anniversary Fundraiser.  Nearly 150 people experienced our story and learned more about the future of our ministry, Side By Side.

 

Looking from the outside, you would see many people in the same room having the same experience.

But each and every person in that room was in a different place in their own personal journey.  So, their experiences were completely different.  Just like the cars on the road traveling next to you.

In the days following our event, we have heard comments from many of the people that attended.

It’s amazing to hear how they receive the story of our journey based on where they are in their journey.

The story we tell is “our journey from hurt to hope.”  Well, the people that came to see Side By Side are all over the spectrum of that journey from hurt>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>to hope.  People tend to gain different insights from our story based on where they fall on that spectrum.

From a godly couple that has come to Side By Side three times:

“Our marriage is better since being introduced to Side By Side.”

From a couple that viewed it on video when headed for divorce (and now have seen it live, too!):

“If it weren’t for Side By Side, we wouldn’t be married.”

From a couple that has been married over twenty years, and seen Side By Side twice:

“God shows me something new each time.”

From a ministry leader seeing it for the first time:

“It’s like Christian Broadway!”

From a couple experiencing marriage difficulties:

“This was life-changing.”

From a single woman:

“I can apply much of what you talk about to any of my daily relationships.”

Every person at our event was in a different place in their journey….all over the spectrum from hurt to hope.  As we shared how God has worked in our lives, He was working in theirs.  He uses our mess, on a daily basis, to speak to people and show them that He has a beautiful plan for their life, no matter where they are on their journey.

So, how did our event go? (People have asked us that a lot in the last couple weeks!)  It went exactly as God intended it to!  We shared our journey and, through God’s providence, spoke directly to each person in the way they needed to hear it.  For some, God used our story to make radical changes in their lives.  For others, God helped people to see how they can support Side By Side.  For us, He faithfully reminded us of His goodness and His love and His grace.

Thank you to each journey that was represented that night.  We pray that we are all journeying on God’s path toward the HOPE that can only come from Him.

 

 

Wait. Why do you do this?

People ask this question quite a lot.

Why do we do this?

Meaning…why do we publicly share very personal details of our lives with absolute strangers?  Why did we start a non-profit organization?  Why do we revisit a very painful time in our lives over and over and over again?

Continue reading

Real marriages are being saved!

Side By Side Ministry was created out of our mess.  Our marriage was broken and headed for divorce.  Miraculously, God restored our marriage.  And we began the difficult yet amazing journey from hurt to hope.

In our desire to inspire and encourage couples to do the same, we created Side By Side, a musical storytelling experience, in which we share the details of our journey and support it with faith-based music.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Since Side By Side Ministry was created, over 800 people have viewed it live.  Two people have committed their life to Jesus, hundreds have made significant changes to their marriages, and at least 4 marriages have been saved!

God is restoring marriages through Side By Side!

Between live events, we have sent a video of Side By Side to hurting couples.  Guess what?  Those couples were deeply changed by God’s story.  Some made significant changes to their marriages, some felt convicted to seek further counsel, and…

MORE MARRIAGES HAVE BEEN SAVED!

This got us thinking…what if couples could view Side By Side whenever they needed to? What if they didn’t have to wait for a live event? What if they could just do an internet search and find our story of hope?

What if thousands upon thousands of couples could see Side By Side with a simple click?

It is our deepest desire to see ALL marriages God-centered and thriving.  If hearing our story can help couples make the choice to go from surviving to thriving, then we want EVERY couple to have the opportunity to view Side By Side!

Here’s the plan!  We will professionally film our Side By Side presentation.  It will be high-quality, eye-catching, intimate and inspiring.  It will include all the same content as the live event.  It will be available for viewing on our Side By Side YouTube Channel, where couples will also have access to accompanying reflection questions, bible verses, and additional resources.

Side By Side is blessed to have a team of professionals that will strategically market the video online, so that it will be very simple for a couple to find our story of hope.

Just imagine you are a hurting or frustrated spouse searching the internet for direction and inspiration….and up pops Side By Side, leading you to follow God’s design for your marriage!  Sometimes all you need is a little mustard seed, a glimmer of hope, a story that inspires you to keep on keepin’ on or convicts you to make a change. 

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Pray.

First, pray for us! This is a huge project and we need God’s guidance and provision.  Your prayers are so important.

Tell.

Please tell people about us!  Invite them to our upcoming fundraiser on July 23rd at Parkridge Church.  Tell them there is a non-profit organization out there that wants to see all marriages God-centered and thriving.  Like us and share our posts on Facebook. Follow us on Instagram. Don’t assume that people know about us.

Give.

In order to create and implement this video project, we need to raise $75,000.  This is a huge project that requires a great deal of resources.  It is important to us that we are able to offer the Side By Side video and resources FREE OF CHARGE to those that need it.  Please consider partnering with us to save marriages!  GIVE NOW.

Friends, we believe this is God’s plan for Side By Side.  We have already been so blessed to see how He is orchestrating this next step for us.  We thank you in advance for being a part of this project.  We believe it is a “game-changer” for Side By Side.  We also believe it is going to save marriages and change lives! 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.                   2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Processed with VSCO with e7 preset

www.sidebysideministry.org

 

 

Whose are you?

Whose are you?  No, it’s not a typo, I didn’t mean to ask WHO are you.  I am asking, WHOSE are you?  Let me explain why I ask.

We were privileged to attend an adoption ceremony recently.  A family in our church, who have fostered the children for years, were given the right to adopt them last week.

My brother was adopted into our family when I was six, and I was adopted by my stepfather when I was an adult.  So, this adoption ceremony brought back a lot of memories and flooded me with emotion.

Continue reading

A Strong Foundation: Guest Blog Post by Author Becky Graham

Side By Side Friends, Please help me welcome our guest, Becky Graham.  Becky and her husband, Dave, transplanted to South Florida from the Chicagoland area in August 2015.  They are members of Parkridge Church in Coral Springs, FL.  Becky recently launched her first book, Faithful: An Unexpected Journey to Motherhood.

“I’d like everyone to draw a triangle on the piece of paper in front of you,” the woman instructed the group.

As part of our church’s mandatory pre-marital requirements, Dave, my fiancé, and I found ourselves sitting in a conference room at the church, on a Saturday, along with 12 other couples, for the next six hours. Knowing the divorce rate was 50% of all marriages, they wanted the couples to have a better than 50% chance of staying married. Continue reading

Deer in headlights.

“Lisa, every time I see you lately, you look like a deer in caught in headlights.”  This was said by a friend as I entered the threshold of our third event of the weekend.  I was not at all offended.  She is a trusted friend and I actually really appreciated her statement.  So much so that I am going to write about it today.  Continue reading

And….Action!

Believe it or not, the words “I love you” are not very meaningful for me.  When Steve and I were experiencing extreme strife in our marriage he would still say “I love you.”  At first, it was relieving to hear those words….like, whew, even though he’s treating me poorly, at least he still loves me.

But after a short time, those words were worthless.  Why?  Because they were not backed up with action.   Actually, his actions were the complete opposite of love.  Continue reading

3 Magic Words For Your Marriage!

What are the magic words to help love abound in your marriage?  We know from our last blog post that “always” and “never” are not doing you any favors.  So, if those are the “bad words,” what are the “good words” for our marriages?  Continue reading

3 truths that lead to healing. (Part 3)

“If you don’t even kiss me when you get home, then good luck getting anything more than that tonight.”

“Why shouldn’t I go out with the guys again? If I am home, all she does is complain.”

“How can I possibly respect you when you haven’t done anything respectful?”

Do any of these sound remotely familiar?  Come on, be honest with yourself…it’s very likely every single one of us has said something similar at some point in our marriages.  In fact, many of us use statements like this daily.  What do all these statements have in common?  They all include Continue reading