Saturday, March 31, 2012


OUR NEW SITE - Marriage by Divine Design -

Marriage By Design is moving! We're now switching over to a WordPress blog, and our name is changing slightly to Marriage by Divine Design. Come join us at our new site as we continue to glorify God as we learn more about HIS design for marriage.

God Bless!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mom vs. Wife

from NICOLE:

Today, on To Love Honor and Vacuum, Sheila asks the question, Are You a Better Wife or a Better Mom? She even inserted a comment I made to her a while back about how society really stresses being a "good mom."

Think back to the moment you first learned you were going to have a baby... or perhaps the moment when you began the journey to adopt your child. Having done both, I remember buying numerous books and subscribing to different magazines as well. You also start to talk to other BTDT moms, and ALL of them are more than willing to give you advice on what to do, what not to do, etc.

The day comes when you finally bring that child into your home. Your heart has never felt this kind of love before... a love so deep and fierce that you know you would do anything for this child. The focus has shifted from preparing for this child to caring for this child. All your energy goes into caring for your new blessing. If you've adopted, your energy is spent on helping your new child transition into the family... and possibly redirecting behaviors that he/she has picked up prior to coming into your home. At the end of each and every evening, you're exhausted. But the love you feel for this child, YOUR child, fills your love tank and gives you a sense of worth and value.

What about when you first learned you were going to be a wife? You know... when he popped the question and you said "yes". What kind of books did you read? If you were like most brides-to-be, you stocked up on magazines and books that talked all about the wedding... how to pick the perfect venue, the latest and greatest in dresses and hair styles, etiquette for who pays for what, etc. But how did you really prepare yourself for the MARRIAGE that followed that beautiful wedding day?

After a child is born or brought into the family, you begin using all the knowledge you've obtained during the planning process to help nurture that child. Instincts take over and you give all you've got to be the best mom ever. Compare that to after your wedding... what have you learned while planning your wedding that can help you now? The dress, the hair, the music... all a thing of the past. It's now time to nurture your marriage.

While being a mom can be challenging, it's a role that most women step into quite easily, and most do a great job too! But what about the role of being a wife? Do you put as much effort into being a wife as you do being a mom? I completely agree with Sheila when she says that we need to prioritize our marriages. I don't mean we should neglect our children or not care for them when they need it, but if we give every ounce of energy and love to our children, where does that leave our husbands???

I'm going to be completely honest here. Until recently, I didn't understand that at all. I thought it was my job to care for my children. I gave every bit of myself to my children, and I didn't save anything for Scott. While things looked okay from the outside, our family was crumbling. Why? Because Scott and I were not focusing on each other enough. You see, the BEST thing you can do for your children is to love your husband... for your husband to be your best friend. Kids need to feel safe, and if their parents are of one flesh, they'll feel that security (as an added bonus, if mom and dad are on the same page because they are truly one flesh, it's harder to play one parent against the other!). Our children learn best from what they see us doing. If we show them how a married couple should act, then they'll seek that out when they begin searching for a spouse. Our daughters will understand what it means to be loved by a man instead of being lusted after... and our sons will understand how to truly love a woman.

And if that doesn't make you think more about being more intentional in your marriage, how about this:

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. ~Gen 2:24 (emphasis added)

Umm... that kind of says that our kiddos will leave us one day. Yeah, I know, hard to comprehend. But it's going to happen. Then you'll be with your husband. All alone. Just the two of you. Don't worry, it's not too late. Start nurturing your marriage now. Let the kids know just how much you love your hubby. Better yet, show them with your actions. Remember, your HUSBAND is the one you pledged to love and honor for the rest of your life!!

Our family... taken by a friend, December 2011

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Gospel in the Bedroom

from NICOLE:

Sometimes there are posts that are simply beautiful. Many are thought-provoking, funny, interesting, etc... but few have the simple and amazing beauty that was present in the post made by J, of Hot, Holy and Humorous yesterday.

Head over there now and read her post titled The Gospel in the Bedroom.

Thank you, J!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Marriage Cleaning

from NICOLE:

Over the past couple of weeks I've been doing some cleaning around our house... especially in the kids' rooms. It seems to me that the rooms become even more of a mess when I start cleaning. You have to take everything out, sort through it all and then try to find a place for everything. Lots of times you find things under the bed too. Things that were hidden from view and forgotten... but then you drag them back out and have to go through all of that stuff too. Then there are the closets and dressers... filled with clothes they really don't need, and many that don't even fit anymore. As I look at the rooms I wonder what happened... it wasn't THIS messy when I started, but I continue on and eventually I see the results and can't wait to show my husband how great everything looks.

Marriage can be the same way.

November 28, 2011, was a changing point in our marriage. That will be a day that neither of us will forget. It was the day we realized how broken we were. It was the day we realized we needed to really work on our marriage. It was the day we pleaded with God, to ask for His grace and mercy as we began cleaning up our marriage.

What happens when you start working on your marriage... when you decide to clean up? Yep. It becomes a mess. Things are found that were once hidden out of view. Thoughts and actions that you've kept to yourself are brought to the table. Your mind swirls with all the chaos that you currently face. It all seems so overwhelming. But then you start to sort through everything. You realize that other commitments you've made (work, volunteering, etc) just aren't nearly as important as the commitment you made to your spouse the day you got married. You start to put things back where they belong... where God intended them to be.

God's design for marriage is perfect. And when we follow His design, things work. Everything has its place, and life feels more fulfilling.

Now, that doesn't mean that things will never get messy again. Just like you have to choose to keep a room clean, you must CHOOSE to make your marriage work... to put God at the center of your marriage and follow His design.

Of course, we all know that sometimes messes just happen. In my house, with four kids ten and under, a dog and the new addition of a Russian land tortoise, messes happen. When God created everything, He had a perfect design for marriage, but sin happened. Sin has caused us to pull away from God, and to pull away from our spouses. And as we work to clean up our marriages, sin (Satan) will try to make a mess of things.

When marriages are working correctly, they reflect the image of God.

While working on your marriage, expect those messes. Realize that sin is working against you to drive you apart so that God's image is decreased to those in the world around you. Remind yourself that your spouse is not your enemy. Work together and pray together. Show everyone what marriage is supposed to be. Let your marriage reflect the sparkling, clean, radiant and most awesome image of God!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Something to brag about

from SCOTT:

Men - I want to hear what you've done for your wife lately. Something worth bragging on that if we were hanging out and you told me, I'd be offering a high-five instantly.

Here's mine. I had a Wed-Fri business trip two weeks ago and knew I could get home by 5:30pm Friday night. As I kissed my wife goodbye, I told her "be ready for Friday night" and then left. I didn't have a clue what we'd do but figured I'd figure it out.

Called a babysitter and made sure she'd be at my house just before I got home. Then I spent a few minutes thinking about what my wife and I would do for 4-5 hours. Went with the standard dinner-and-a-movie by remembering a type of food (Cuban in this case) I knew my wife hadn't had in a while, and a movie I figured we'd both like. I'm lucky that she likes sci-fi so don't laugh when I say John Carter was enjoyable, even though it bombed.

Back to the point: When was the last time you dated your wife? Think about that.

When was the last time you spent 30 minutes finding a sitter, planning an evening and having a blast with the person to which you once proclaimed "until death do us part"?

Biblically speaking, we must take the lead. Doing so shows her how much you love her. It gives her a chance to trust you, and to believe that God's design for marriage (where the man steps up to the plate with the woman's help) actually works.

This isn't rocket science people! Heck, it doesn't even require a sitter. Just plan some time to be with the person that you love more than any other person on the planet. Date her today like you dated her so many years ago. It'll lead to more fun than you realize...

One Week Old!

from NICOLE:

Our blog has been up and running for a week now. YAY! As we continue to post and share from our experiences, we'd love to hear your comments. As a matter of fact, let's open the floor now... tell us what topics you'd like to see us discuss here on Marriage By Design.

Do you want to read more about headship and submission? How about intimacy (emotional, physical and spiritual)? Do you struggle trying to make time for your spouse? Do you struggle with meeting the needs of your children and your spouse? Tell us.

God Bless!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Allowing our Husbands to be Men

from NICOLE:

First off, congrats to my hubby for his first ever blog post!!! Woohoo! :)

Scott had a great point to make about men being men. Unfortunately, in today's culture, men aren't given that chance very often... this is especially true in the husband/wife relationship.

I'm a rather, um, strong-willed and independent kind of gal. I like to plan and be organized. I like to control what's happening. This can be very disastrous in a marriage. In the past, I would often times forget how to let my husband take the lead. Without realizing it, I was taking charge of everything, therefore making him feel incompetent, which made him feel less like a man. When he felt less competent, he would stop trying. That led to me thinking he was just being lazy... which, in turn, made me start looking at him as another child in the house. I began treating him more like a child and depended on him less. Do you see the downward spiral???

If our marriages are going to work, and if we want them to glorify God, we have to take on the roles that God has given us. Men need to be men... women need to be women. This leads to the whole headship/submission challenge. I say "challenge" because I don't think this is meant to be easy. Sin pretty much ruined that... nothing in our marriage is supposed to be "easy," but we'll get to that another time.

So, back to allowing our husbands to be men... My dear ladies, this is going to be hard to digest, but we must learn to submit. I'm not asking you to be a doormat. I'm not asking you to do something immoral. I'm asking you to WILLINGLY let your husband take the lead. You very well might know how to do something better or faster... but if you don't let him try, how will he learn? Now, you can't do this begrudgingly... you have to do it lovingly. You also need to encourage him. I know you can change Suzie's diaper in less than 10 seconds, and he might take several minutes (with the end result being that the diaper is on backwards - no wonder it took so long!), but at least he did it!!!

When it comes to making decisions, talk about the decisions... don't make the decisions for him. Trust me, he doesn't want to make the "wrong" decision. It probably scares him out of his mind... not knowing if you'll be happy with whatever he decides. Share with him your thoughts (again, do so lovingly), but if you come to a point where you still can't agree, try to let go and tell him that you trust him to make the best decision for you both (or for your family, if you have children). If it turns out that the decision was a good one, give him an atta boy! If it wasn't the best, don't play the "I told you so" card... he already knows. Show him that you love him unconditionally... God loves us through our mistakes, don't our husbands deserve that too?

In the past, my husband sat back and let me make all the decisions, which gave me way more control over our marriage than God intended. It also made me feel less cherished because I wasn't allowing my husband to be my rock. Since I started practicing submission (still haven't perfected it...), Scott said that he is feeling more like a man. He feels respected. He values my opinions more. He has started seeing me more as a loving wife and less like a dripping faucet. He is showing me more love, and I feel more valued and cherished. See the upward spiral??? Pointing straight up to God... which is where our marriages should point.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Video for men so we can act like one

So Nicole and I are leading a marriage class during Sunday school entitled "The Art of Marriage".  Each of six sessions is one hour long with a ~30 minute video and some discussion.  Our first class is being well attended with 20+ people!  Highlights from a guy's perspective:

- Videos are quick and each contributor is to-the-point.
- We don't have to encourage discussion, there's plenty of people inspired to respond after seeing each video.
- It's based on God's morals, not our own, so if you follow His path you're more apt to succeed, i.e we men can't screw this up.

I usually worry that stuff like this is mushy and written as if the man should make all sorts of changes to appease an uncomfortable wife.  Not so with this - it really hits home for how a man should man up and his wife can lean on him, and in some cases acutally learn to lean on him.  Men aren't taught how to be men anymore so this class helps us see our real we-need-to-be-tough-as-iron role.

One scene really hits home for men; football references usually do.  In this case, the wide receiver position became an analogy for being a "wife-receiver".  If the wide receiver doesn't track the ball with his eyes into his arms, and then properly tuck the ball into his side, there's a cornerback ready to pounce.  Satan is like that - ready to pounce at a moment of weakness.  Dropping a catch hurts, but going back to the huddle is worse.  Sucks to feel like the walking wounded, having to beg forgiveness from her yet again.

So when you catch that ball, tuck it in tight and still take that hit, it may still hurt but you're excited to run back to the huddle at full speed.  Being a good wife-receiver is like that.  If you start doing the right thing, then fail to follow thru, it's painful to ask for forgiveness.  But what happens when we do the right things and prove our love, heck defend it from Satan...  we're on cloud nine man!

Men - do what you're supposed to do, and by that I mean Stand Up for your women.  Don't wait!  If your heart or head or whatever is thinking "maybe I should help" then get the heck up and help!  Jump up like your lives depend on it - she'll return the favor.


Is It Worth The Cost?

A fellow blogger published a great post titled What is the Culture of Your Marriage? Within the post was a short video link describing Worship. Of course, we're talking about marriage, so he suggested:

Watch the clip, but when you hear the term worship leader think of your role as a spouse, and when you hear worship team, substitute your marriage, and lastly, when you hear worship, think the way you love your spouse.

One of the comments in the video stated that if it's not costing anything it's not worth anything. The woman on the video is referring to 2 Samuel 24:24 when David says I will not offer that which costs me nothing (paraphrased). While the scripture reference is referring to David purchasing a threshing floor from Araunah, isn't this a wonderful way to think about our marriages?

Our marriages should cost us everything. Or rather, our marriages should be WORTH everything. It is important to invest our time, energy and even our finances. If our marriages are meant to glorify God and show people the truth about God, isn't it worth the cost? If we are going to offer up our marriages as a testimony to God's amazing love, grace and design, we must be willing to give it our all.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Words vs. Actions

While doing a devotional with my girls this evening, we came across 1 John 3:18...

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (NIV)

Interesting. You know, it's pretty easy to say "I love you," and make it sound like you mean it. But to actually put some thought into showing someone that you love them, well, that means a ton! Okay, maybe it's just a woman thing, but actions can truly speak louder than words. Don't get me wrong, saying "I love you" is important too! It's just nice to SEE the love as well.

Here's the translation that was in the girls' devotional book:

Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions. (NLT)

So, how do we go about showing our spouse love? You must first determine what it is that makes your spouse feel special, valued, respected, competent, etc. Better yet, what makes YOU feel loved? As unromantic as it may sound, sometimes it's a good idea to tell your spouse what you need to feel loved. I recently did this with Scott... I asked him if it would help if I would just give him a list of things that made me feel special/valued/loved. He said yes! Of course, I couldn't make it that easy on him, so I did a word scramble and challenged him to complete it. Upon doing so, he could redeem a "coupon" for... well... you get the idea.  ;) 

Do you know what it takes to make your spouse feel loved? If not, find out. Take the initiative to let your spouse know that he/she is the most important person on this planet!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Education, Meditation, Application

Our pastor mentioned those three words in passing today... it wasn't meant to be any specific message, just something he said before Sunday School began. Still, it reminded me of what needs to be done in regards to so many things... especially marriage.

Marriage is all about learning (education). You learn more and more about each other every day, and you learn from others what you should and should not do. You can also learn quite a bit about marriage from reading God's Word. There are amazing books out there to help you strengthen your marriage, but reading God's Word trumps them all!!!

Once you've learned some new things, you need to meditate on what you've learned. One definition of meditate is to reflect deeply... think about what you've just learned and begin processing it all. Of course, part of meditation is also praying. Praying for your marriage and for your spouse is a crucial part of making your marriage work!

Finally, there's the application, or implementation. So, you've learned something new... you've prayed about it... now you need to DO something about it. You can read books and blogs about marriage and talk about it with your friends till you are blue in the face. But until you actually put those new plans into action, are you really going to see any change? Just like you must choose to love your spouse each and every day, you must choose to improve your marriage. You must apply what you've learned.

What have you learned about marriage and/or your spouse? Have you prayed about it? Are you applying what you've learned? If so, then you are glorifying God through your marriage!!!  :)


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Getting Started

Welcome to Marriage By Design! Marriage, by God's design, is a beautiful thing. It is not something that one should enter into without considerable prayer, counsel and thought. Marriage is something that should be constantly nurtured and cultivated over time, and we should always keep God at the center of our marriage. Our prayer is that you will find encouragement for your marriage through the posts and links we provide.

We have experienced many ups and downs in our marriage. By the grace of God we have persevered, and we continue to grow closer each day. Sure, there are days when we might not be super happy with (or dare I say "like") each other, but we have made the choice to love one another forever. That choice is a daily choice, and because of that choice, we sometimes come under attack. Those attacks threaten the intimacy that is necessary for marriage to thrive. We must remember that we are not each other's enemy... that we need to work together as a team and, most importantly, that we need to turn to God for guidance.

Join us as we continue to grow in our marriage and in our relationship with God.