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If there is anything that fires me up and gets me passionate it is the subject of marriage.  We have had to grow through the valleys to learn how to love each other as God designed us to love. It is not always a feel good relationship. But it is so worth it to fight for your spouse and your family.  Rick and I have been involved in marriage ministry for over ten years but now we have been fueled by all of the stories we are hearing about broken marriages, about the fight to change the definition of marriage and by the number of families that are broken.  We will not stop fighting for marriages and loving couples through their challenges.

Recently we have been honored to join forces with Family Life and Noble Warriors. We are planning on partnering with churches in the Chesterfield/ Powhatan County area to hold a county wide marriage event this fall.  The Art of Marriage event will take place September 21-22 at Tomahawk Creek Middle School in Midlothian, VA.  We have a lot of work to do in order to hold this event.  We have been emailing and calling churches all over the area. We are holding a planning meeting on May 10 to put the team together.  We are also holding a training Art of Marriage on May 31-June 1 at our church: Village Church of Midlothian. Would you like to attend?

We could really use your prayers and support. If you are in the area let me know if you want to be a part of the team. If you live elsewhere, please keep this in your prayers. Marriages are under attack which means families and children are under attack.  Join us as we help to strengthen marriages!

In the meantime I am also working on my journal.  I hope to release it before the July 1 anniversary of Tonia’s death.  This has been a very tough labor of love. Thanks for walking this journey with me.

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Where we focus

Facebook has evolved into a social media outlet that I am not sure I like anymore. I joined  to be able to keep up on people’s lives, especially the teenagers we were working with. It was a great place to share pictures, encouragement and updates about our life.

Recently it has been full of stories about all of the things going wrong in the world. Look at this, protest me, share this video, spread the news to your friends.  I don’t have a problem with people getting passionate about something. What I do have a problem with is Not sharing the only response and answer to all of these problems.  Revelation tells us that the world as it once was is going to fall apart and end! Government will try to take over everything and our faith will become ridiculed and even outlawed.  Guess what? We win! We win if we have accepted Christ as our Savior. He has and will overcome the world.

It is never too late to accept the gift of eternity… Until it is too late! Accept Christ, love your spouse and children, love your neighbor as yourself and spread the Gospel message to all nations. That fills up the years I have left here on Earth!

Do I have an eternal mindset or one that is only focusing on the here and now? I confess that I struggle with this concept at times. News events and posts make me cranky and tired. I get blue when I can’t change anything around me.  Then I remember the story of the little boy on a beach filled with starfish. He was walking along picking one up and throwing it back into the water.  A man walked up to him and told him that he couldn’t save all of the starfish so why bother at all.  The little boy looked at the one in his hand, threw it into the water and said, “I made a difference to this one!”

So today and tomorrow I will focus on trying to make a difference in just one person’s life with a hug, a kind word, or a portion of truth from scripture. I may not solve all of the problems of this world but maybe someone will join me in eternity!

 

Marriage thoughts

The social media has been going crazy with protest this or ban that. So much negativity and even hate. God spoke truth, in love! I have to rein in my own emotions and how I react to items in the news or on sharing sites.  It is not about bashing anyone but it is about taking a stance. Here are some of the thoughts I have had recently.

It is important to stand up for marriage between one man and one woman for several reasons. Here’s one: a society needs to have a line in the sand when it comes to truth! No gray areas, truth as truth. When that line in the sand is washed away society starts to crumble. Gray areas start to become bigger and values start to decay. Without a set of values and morals people become less important. Government starts to define truth as they see it. We must have a line that is drawn in the sand based a set of values that do not waver. This is just one area that the line is being washed away. There are so many more. How soon will it be before your right to live will be decided by a judge who thinks the cost of your care is too expensive? Where are his values coming from?

There was a post on someone page about people protesting gay marriages but not protesting divorce. This got me thinking about how we protest something. I do believe that we are protesting divorce when we offer up tools to create a stronger marriage, a stronger family. We protest divorce when we try to help a couple reconcile. We protest divorce by renewing our vows in front of our friends and when we stay together even when we go through the valleys. Marriage between one man and one woman is the backbone of the world. The commitment to one person makes the family stronger, the children more secure and the morals and values defined. Divorce is wrong and listening to a hurting couple is our protest! Don’t underestimate the power of love!

We have a responsibility to love people, it was the second most important commandment that Jesus gave us. He said, “love your neighbors as yourself.”

I know that these truths are ones that need to be shared in face to face conversations but I also believe that we can use social media sites to spread God’s message. I pray that God can use me to share His passion for marriage, for people and for each of our eternal futures.

Marriage Covenant

We have “beat the odds” in our marriage. In May, 2013. we will celebrate 27 years! The odds were against us. I was married at 19, divorced at 22 and I was a single mother to my beautiful daughter. Rick and I met and neither one of us had a relationship with God. We lived together for 2 years before getting married. He adopted my daughter the month after the marriage and our son was born the following year. After being married for 11 years we both accepted Christ as Savior within a few months of each other. First my husband and then myself. That was in 1997. God granted us 10 years of growing with Him and preparing us for an event that changed our life forever. Our daughter, at 25 years old, was murdered by her husband on July 1, 2007.  Once again, with God’s grace and mercy, we beat the odds. Not only did we stay together, we are closer to God and to each other. We renewed our vows in 2011, in front of family and friends as we committed our marriage to God for the first time and recommitted our marriage to each other for the second time! God is so good!

Marriages are under attack both from the general society but also from within the family. The general consensus is that if a marriage doesn’t make me feel good than it is a “bad” marriage and I need to start over. Not true! Love is a choice and not just a feeling. Your spouse and you for that matter, will NEVER fulfill all of your needs. You will not feel in love 24/7! It is impossible. You are human and your spouse is human and you are both going to mess up! The choice comes when you make the decision that your marriage is worth fighting for and working on! It is not always easy but it is always so worth it!

God created marriage to be a covenant between two people. A covenant is a promise, a committment to each other. For better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. Solemn vows. He made it a covenant because He knew we would have those days when you don’t really like your spouse very much. I have been there and felt that way too many times to count. But when I remember the promise for better And for worse, the moment passes. Life smooths out. Love rekindles.

When we have an argument Rick calls is cleaning the rafters, we shake the house so hard with our arguments that even the rafters are cleaned of their dirt! We had a few years where we had really clean rafters! We even had one argument that was so tough that I was in the car, ready to give up on our marriage. This was just a few months before we both accepted Christ as our Savior. But God was already working in our hearts. I was in the car getting ready to drive away when I looked into the eyes of my husband and my kids. What I saw there broke my heart and stopped me from driving away. It was fear, sorrow and total devastation. Our world was about to come crashing down around us. Those looks were harder to deal with then putting the car back into park, climbing out of the driver’s seat and heading back into the house.  We made a new vow to each other that day. Never again would we have the choice to leave. We truly accepted the covenant promise of our marriage into our lives. Today, I am married to my best friend. He cherishes me and sacrifices for me. I adore him. I respect him for the man he continues to become and the man God has called him to be. I am so glad that I didn’t drive away that day. I would have missed out on this gift!

Marriage isn’t easy. Daily we have stressors that try to tear us apart. My heart breaks for marriages I see that are so me-focused that there is no we-focus.

We will continue to press on in telling others the truth of the Marriage Covenant,  It is the only choice!

Hugs!!

 

 

This was my Facebook post today: We are seriously getting ready to honor God and promote biblical marriages this year. First Weekend to Remember meeting on Saturday and we are setting up marriage retreats at our home for the rest of the year. We have grown so much stronger as a couple with God’s grace and strength. Our marriage should have been a casualty according to the world’s standards. We had so many ‘statistics’ against us from the start. Losing our daughter ‘should have’ torn us apart but knowing God and being committed to honor our marriage has deepened our love for each other. We are stronger now than ever before. We want to help other couples grow closer to God and each other. If you want more information about a weekend retreat at our home, a Weekend to Remember event, or an Art of Marriage bible study contact us! We are here to help you honor God and fall in love with your spouse even more!

We are so impassioned and excited about what God can do if we only get out of His way. He has given us a beautiful home that we want to share with others.  We have designed it to be accessible to many people.  We didn’t want anything to be a hindrance to people coming to hear God’s word and experience a retreat. We have a wheelchair ramp leading through a side door into the main hallway. There is one bathroom that has an accessible shower with grab bars and a toilet with grab bars.  The sink is lower and it is easier to use for someone in a walker or wheelchair.  The door ways are wider and there are no carpets on the first floor. We are not fully wheelchair accessible but we come really close!

We have a guest bedroom on the first floor and two more guest bedrooms upstairs. The upstairs guest rooms share a full bath.

Our hearts are with marriages. We love couples, teenagers and kids but if we want to impact the world we need to help marriages become biblically sound. Families affect their own children and the world around them.

We have lived through our own challenges both as individuals and together as a couple. God has provided His strength and His guidance through the tough times. We are not perfect, no one is, but God has gifted us with the ability to listen and to share His plan for marriages.

I am praying that He continues to guide us and bring those couples into our sphere of influence who want to have a better marriage. The retreats are Not for marriage who are already in deep trouble, we are Not counselors. The retreats are a tool that you can use to grow closer to God and become more fit to serve God together as a family!

 

 

 

 

A New Season: 2013

It is January 2013. I am sitting at our kitchen table in our new home as the rain is falling. Yes rain in January! Our grass is even growing.  Life has been a whirlwind over the past year and even more so over the last month. Christmas, New Year and then moving into our home.

Front of our new home

Front of our new home

We have been so blessed and we want to be able to bless others.  As I unpack the house I am trying to see it through the eyes of the people who will visit us and stay with us.  I have put a basket of “goodies” in each bathroom. Small bottles of shampoo, body wash, lotion and conditioner. There is also a shower cap and an eye mask for sleeping.  Eventually I want to have a makeup mirror in every dresser in the bedrooms as well as a luggage rack. Just little things to welcome friends and family. I can’t wait to start hanging up some pictures and putting out my favorite books. I have so many projects that I want to get started and complete.  But first I have to get unpacked!

One of my goals for this year is to get my journal about Tonia’s death completely edited so I can share it with anyone that God sends my way.  I believe that it might help to know that we have gone through the loss of Tonia and all of the surrounding issues and that God has made us stronger. I want it to encourage other marriages and families to be able to grow closer to God and to each other. It will be complete at just the right time.

For now I am going to unpack a few more boxes and try to organize a few more areas.  I can’t wait to open up my home to you!

Summer 2012

It has been such a whirlwind summer. God has blessed us in so many ways. Just a quick recap: we moved to Virginia Memorial Day weekend. They started clearing our land on June 9. We found a new church to fellowship with new friends. Sean and Yelena got engaged on August 14. You can read their blogs about the engagement here: http://myquestfor-l.blogspot.com/2012/08/engaged-story.html and here: http://walkinginlightanddark.blogspot.com/2012/08/happiness.html. It is so sweet to read each of their versions of how they got engaged. We are so crazy happy with their decision! In the middle of October Rick and I are flying to California to meet Yelena’s family and to celebrate their engagement. What a very special time in all of our lives.

In the meantime we continue to build our new home. Today marks the beginning of week 15. So much has already happened.

Front of the house

 

Roofing

 

Last week we met with plumber and he is already almost finished with the rough in. We also met with gas, HVAC and electrician. The cabinet people came and drew out the cabinet spacing on the floor and we choose the wood and color of the cabinets. This week I meet with the granite, tile and lighting professionals hopefully for the last time. I have already been in the tile store 3 times, the lighting place 2 times and this is 1st official appointment at the granite store.

Rick and I “found” a new room in the house. As they were framing out the 2nd floor, we were scheduled to have two walk in attic storage areas. Well the side behind the garage is huge! It easily could have a cathedral ceiling and we could sleep an army of teenagers for  an overnight party! Ok maybe not an army but… We made the last-minute decision to have the builder change the HVAC, electrical and structured cable hookups so we can insulate and sheet rock this room. We will paint, trim and carpet it later but all of the difficult stuff will be done. This started us thinking about how God might be opening our eyes to how He can use this home for ministry. We know that we want to hold marriage retreat weekend in our new home. We will be holding our community group get together there. We spoke to the youth leaders at our new church and told them they can hold sleep-overs and bonfires at our house. We can have missionaries stay with us while they are on sabbatical or just in town for a few days. I can open up our home to friends who want to come over and work on crafts or just need a cup of coffee and a long talk! The possibilities are truly endless.

We want to make our home as open and as friendly as possible. One of the bathrooms is fully wheelchair accessible. We have an outdoor  ramp up to the side hallway door. All of the door ways are at least 32″ wide and the hallway is 48″ wide. Every guest room will have a dresser with a makeup mirror for the ladies and a luggage rack in the closet for suitcases. Our furniture says come on and get cozy, put your feet up and stay awhile. Our goal is to entertain strangers because then they can become friends!

I am overwhelmed by the blessing that we are able to use for God. There are going to be so many opportunities and we are praying that our hearts are open to them. My biggest fear is that I am not the greatest cook. I get by but that has never been my strong point. I am going to be asking for a lot of advice from my friends. If you have a favorite recipe for a simple appetizer, soup, entrée or desert would you please email it to me? Any suggestions would be appreciated! Once we are in our new home I am going to start organizing my recipes into easy to find index card boxes. I love to research so after the house decisions are made I may ask friends to give me cooking lessons!

Our life has changed this year in ways we never imagined happening. I Never dreamed that we would be living in Virginia. It never crossed my mind. Doors closed in so many ways but God opened so many more windows. I don’t know what tomorrow brings but for today I am happy to turn the corner and see what God has in store! Hugs ahead!