Friday, November 7, 2014

Be Captivating!

1 Peter 3:1 (The Message)

Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs.  There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty.

1 Peter 3:1 inspired me this morning.   Even though this verse specifically addresses wives, I believe it can also apply to men.  

Those with Christian spouses can learn from this verse too.   Christian spouses may be more sensitive to words about God, but they still can be captivated by our lives of holy beauty. 

Often after the wedding, we tend to try to change our spouses instead of being responsive to their needs.  

When we first became Christians, God didn’t expect us to change before He accepted us.  In fact, Romans 5:8 says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

If God could love us in our weaknesses (and we have them, Christian or not), with Christ’s help, we should be able to love our spouses unconditionally too, putting them before our own needs.  

 I love 1 Peter 1:22 in The Message:  Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it.” 


If you’ve been trying to change your spouse, STOP.  You can only change yourself and that should be your goal -- becoming more Christlike.   

Think about your mate's strengths (not weaknesses), and express to him/her how fortunate you are to have him/her in your life.  Words of encouragement mean more than you can ever know to your spouse.  I challenge you to be your spouse's best cheerleader by praising him daily.

In addition, reflect on 1 Peter 3:1 and 1 Peter 1:22, and let it challenge your way of thinking. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Unconditional Love

I just got back from NC where I spent some time with my mom.  My step-dad went to be with the Lord on October 10th.  I know it is a difficult time for her.

On November 11th, they would have been married eight years.  They had some great times together.  We reminisced about their experiences while we were there.

Three years ago Bill had a stroke.  He recovered somewhat but has had some health issues ever since.  There have been good days and bad, but they pressed on together and loved each other despite challenges.

I watched my mom care for Bill as his health declined -- something I wish no one had to ever experience.   She loved him unconditionally every day of his life.  The wedding vows promising to love each other "in sickness and in health" took on a deeper meaning for me.

When I look at what they have gone through, it makes me realize how important it is to cherish everyday with Jerry.   It's easy to get caught up in the circumstances of life and take for granted what God has given us together.

Today, take a moment to appreciate your spouse and your relationship.  If it is strained, remember life is fragile and short.  Make amends and enjoy life with your spouse.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Timeless Principles to Enhance Marriage

I’ve been reading the book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie in the 1930s.  Dale Carnegie was an influential man himself who taught businessmen and professionals how to succeed. 

His suggestions and principles, if applied, would also help any marriage thrive.  The recommendations are timeless and simple.  In our fast-paced world, they are easy to forget too.  

The first principle is “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.”  I’m the first to admit, I’ve failed at this one often in my own marriage.  It’s easier to treat strangers with respect and overlook their faults than it is to do in marriage.   Because of our relationship, we often feel we can be blunt.  It would serve us well to use filters for our words.   The scripture is true.  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)

I can’t get beyond the first chapter of this book because it’s a principle I want to make sure I implement in my own marriage.   I thought blogging might help me think before speaking.  

In any relationship, there will be irritations that occur.   I’m not saying to just bite your tongue and bury things you don't like.  However, I think some examination of your own heart is necessary before pointing the finger at him or her. 

Today I’ve been contemplating how to communicate issues that are not exactly positive to our marriage partners.    

Here are some suggestions when tempted to criticize, condemn or complain:

1.              Don’t confront the issue immediately.  Take some time to cool off and assess the situation.

2.              Write down things you love about your spouse.  Focusing on the positive helps diffuse the negative.

3.              Examine your motives for the confrontation:

a.     Why do you want to discuss this issue?

b.     Will the conversation bring resolve?

c.      Will your suggestions be well received?

d.     Is this confrontation really necessary?
4.              Write down the things you want to confront.

5.              Pray about the right timing or decide if you just need to vent on paper.

6.              Schedule a time when you can have a discussion when other family members are not close enough to hear.    If you meet in public (like a coffee shop, restaurant or park) you will be more apt to stay calm. 

7.              Approach your spouse as if he/she has your best in mind.   Listen to your spouse's side of the story.

8.              Chose your words wisely.  The same thing can be said using words that build up instead of words that tear down.

This list is not final by any means, so feel free to add your own steps in the comment section.  However, as you put these things into practice, instead of criticism, condemnation and complaining, it will become communication, which every marriage needs to succeed.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane

Isaiah 61:3:  
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

I am from North Carolina originally and have been in Arizona for 15 years.  I love September in North Carolina.  It’s the time when the mornings become much cooler, and fall sets in.  

North Carolina is famous for oak trees.  In the fall, acorns are plentiful and have always had a special meaning for our family. 

When my dad and mom were dating, dad picked an acorn from the ground while they were walking and made a ring out of it with his pocket knife.   He put it on my mom and asked her to marry him. 

He gave her an engagement ring later, but the significance of that moment became part of our family heritage. 

Through the years, acorns appeared around our house in various forms.  Whether it was a handful of acorns, a special plaque or a card, acorns became the symbol of love for the Tunstall home.

For me as a child, that spoke of security.  I loved seeing little reminders of their beginning. 

To this day, acorns mean love to me, and Jerry and I have our fair share as well.  If you come to our home in the fall, you will see many of them sitting around.  

If all of us remembered our early years and beginning, our marriages may be better.  It’s so tempting to get caught up in the pressure of today and forget about why we are together in the first place.

Maybe you don’t have a specific symbol for your marriage, but each of us have special memories of those early days. 

Let me challenge you this week to take a little stroll down memory lane and talk about some of those fun times that drew you to each other.  Then tell your kids so they too will know your history.  It will bring smiles to their faces.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Married for Life

This week, Shelly and Bob’s marriage is over.  Not because they had a disagreement or could not get along.  God took Bob home.

They were married for 50 years.  I have not had an opportunity to chat with Shelly about what made their marriage special, but the day is coming when I will. 

I do know they had a great relationship, one with no regrets.  She would probably tell me not to hold grudges – you never know what tomorrow will bring. 

They enjoyed each other’s company and were great companions for each other.  Life will be difficult for Shelly without Bob, but she will make it. 

We talked earlier today about the fact that God had more for her to do.  Personally, I think she can be a great example to the young married couples in this day and time.   I know I want to learn her secrets to a successful marriage.

Let me encourage you today to cherish your spouse.  Life is fragile, and we must be mindful to live each day to the fullest extent. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014


I’m on my way back from NC where I helped my sister prepare for her daughter’s wedding.  We were busy for almost a week taking care of all the little details to make the day special.  The setting could not have been more beautiful and the preparation paid off by everything flowing smoothly. 

It always amazes me how many things must be done for such a short ceremony.    The ceremony may be short, but the marriage is long, and things will be necessary daily to keep it running smoothly. 

I have learned as a wife, marriage is a 24-hour a day, seven day a week adventure.   It is just not an option to take my husband for granted or put him low on the priority list.  Marriage is bliss only when I learn to let go of my own expectations and meet my husband’s needs. 

Jerry is a great husband and spoils me a lot, but that can’t be my focus.  My responsibility is to love and serve him.  My life is so much better when I put him before myself.   

I’m thankful for the years we have had together, and if I had to give my niece one word of advice, it would be FOCUS.   After God, focus on hubby, then family and other things. 

In the child-rearing years, it’s so tempting to put the marriage relationship on the back-burner.  I’ve seen it happen far too often.  Once the kids are grown (and that comes faster than you can ever imagine), there is no relationship left unless time is spent connecting through the years.

How can we focus when life is so crazy?   Little things make all the difference.

Here are a few tips:

·               Be polite to your spouse when you are together.  Sometimes we are more irritable at home than with strangers or work associates.

·               Read 1 Corinthians 13 daily.  Insert your name and live it out in your marriage.

·               Ask him/her if you can get them anything when you are going in the kitchen or running an errand.

·               Defer to him/her when you watch television together.

·               Share parenting tasks.

·               Share housework and cooking.

·               Make time after the kids have gone to bed to talk and connect without the interference of television.   Our favorite spot is sitting on the patio together.

·               Work out your differences by listening to each other’s opinion completely and together decide the best solution. 

·                Spend time with other couples who have good marriages.

·               Make time for date nights and occasional overnight stays together away from home.  

·               Take time to be intimate.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list.  I’ve put this together rather quickly.   Please comment and add your own suggestions. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Walk in Unity

I am so thankful for my husband, and I am so glad God created the institution of marriage for us to be able to share life together.  I love him with all my heart and we have raised three awesome boys.  Life has been good.  God has definitely blessed us.

Marriage is not easy though.  There are times we have differing opinions.  It's in these times we have to decide whether we will fight each other or work through the differences.

I choose the latter.  It's so much better to work through things than let petty things divide us.  Satan knows the things that push our buttons and I feel he looks for every opportunity to speak little negative thoughts in our ears.  If not Satan, maybe it's just our own flesh that is conjuring up the conflict.  Regardless of the source, it's definitely not God.  

The point is, by staying in unity, we can accomplish so much more.   The Bible says in Matthew 18:19, "If two of you agree on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you."  

We can also hinder prayers by not walking with each other in understanding according to 1 Peter 3:7.  

Today if you are struggling to agree with your spouse, take the high road.   Set aside the negative feelings and start counting your blessings.  When you think of the positive things about your spouse instead of focusing on the negative, life will be a lot sweeter.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Come Away My Beloved

Jerry and I just returned from a much needed vacation on the California coast.  It was awesome being able to get away from the heat in Arizona for a little while and a great time to communicate with each other. 

If you have never taken time away with just your spouse, let me encourage you to try it.  Getting away is not only refreshing physically but it is also a time to reconnect with each other without distractions you may have at home. 

Jerry and I have been married 37 years, and when our kids were young we made a decision to take an annual time away from them, usually around our anniversary.   It was something we considered as important as paying the electric bill.  

I think the kids enjoyed us going out of town as much as we did.  Most of the time they were with grandparents, although we made other arrangements at times too.  Whether it was for one night or an entire week, it’s amazing how much going away did for our marriage.  

We always had a family vacation too, but by taking a little time for ourselves first, we were better prepared for the pace of the family vacation.  

I believe one of the best things we can do for our kids is to show love for our spouse.  It makes them feel secure and models for them what a healthy marriage is to be like.  

Waiting till our kids are grown to take time alone is just not reasonable.  If we concentrate on our kids and all they are involved in and don’t nurture our spouse, we probably won’t have much of a relationship by the time they are grown and gone. 

Even though we are empty nesters, we still make time for dates and over nighters.   It is one of the things that has kept us passionate about each other.   Taking ourselves out of routine does wonders for our relationship.  I’m sure you will find the same thing happens for you. 

There are many vacation deals around Arizona in the summer.  Getting away doesn’t have to take you far.  Make arrangements for a family member to keep your kids or trade with a friend.   It is an investment in your marriage that will pay huge dividends.