Daily Encouragement: Psalm 18:

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.

We know a God who is listening- even if it looks like he is not.

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Psalm 18- Encouragement for the Soul

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield[b] and the horn[c] of my salvation, my stronghold. Encouragement, God is with Us

With the world going crazy around us, how comforting that we have a rock who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow!

Psalm 18

For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord. He sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:

I love you, Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield[b] and the horn[c] of my salvation, my stronghold.

I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me;
    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
    the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came before him, into his ears.


The earth trembled and quaked,
    and the foundations of the mountains shook;
    they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
    consuming fire came from his mouth,
    burning coals blazed out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down;
    dark clouds were under his feet.
10 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
    he soared on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
    the dark rain clouds of the sky.
12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
    with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
13 The Lord thundered from heaven;
    the voice of the Most High resounded.[d]
14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
    with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
15 The valleys of the sea were exposed
    and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, Lord,
    at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

20 The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
    I am not guilty of turning from my God.
22 All his laws are before me;
    I have not turned away from his decrees.
23 I have been blameless before him
    and have kept myself from sin.
24 The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
    according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
    to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
    but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
27 You save the humble
    but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
28 You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;
    my God turns my darkness into light.
29 With your help I can advance against a troop[e];
    with my God I can scale a wall.

30 As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for battle;
    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You make your saving help my shield,
    and your right hand sustains me;
    your help has made me great.
36 You provide a broad path for my feet,
    so that my ankles do not give way.

37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
    I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
38 I crushed them so that they could not rise;
    they fell beneath my feet.
39 You armed me with strength for battle;
    you humbled my adversaries before me.
40 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
    and I destroyed my foes.
41 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—
    to the Lord, but he did not answer.
42 I beat them as fine as windblown dust;
    I trampled them[f] like mud in the streets.
43 You have delivered me from the attacks of the people;
    you have made me the head of nations.
People I did not know now serve me,
44     foreigners cower before me;
    as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
45 They all lose heart;
    they come trembling from their strongholds.

46 The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!
    Exalted be God my Savior!
47 He is the God who avenges me,
    who subdues nations under me,
48     who saves me from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
    from a violent man you rescued me.
49 Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
    I will sing the praises of your name.

50 He gives his king great victories;
    he shows unfailing love to his anointed,
    to David and to his descendants forever.

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My Biggest Fan- Restoring Home

Who’s your biggest fan?

Do you know who mine is? My husband.

He is my biggest fan and relentless supporter and I am his.

For me, being his biggest fan is easy. Tony is Mr. Steady, he rarely finds himself in a bad mood and his continual optimism is inspiring.

Me? I am a hot mess most of the time. And yet, he focusses on my strengths and praises me. He is convinced there is not a better writer, mother, wife on the planet.

You should be your spouse's biggest fan. Restoring Home, Marriage, and Love
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This means the WORLD to me. I struggled this past weekend. I had a writing deadline (which I met) and this had me in a funk. Not because I was behind and there was too much pressure. I thrive under pressure, I was struggling because of the onslaught of self-doubt that comes every time I meet a goal and whenever my work is about to be published. I get sideways and have a hard time picking up a pen or typing a sentence. This sort of behavior in its various forms has been present my whole adult life.

But, does my husband roll his eyes or tell me to get over it?

No, he tells me how brilliant I am. He focuses on my strengths and loves me through it. He accepts me the way I am and pushes me to believe in myself and to keep pursuing my goals and dreams.

I pray to God, that I am the same for him.

This world is nasty and mean, we have an enemy whose ONLY purpose and goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. Our home should be the safe harbor in the storm. Everyone in your home should feel safe, loved, and encouraged.

So, be your spouse’s biggest fan and relentless supporter.

If you are sitting there thinking that there is nothing to praise or support- you aren’t looking hard enough.

If you both go at each other like you are each other’s worst enemy- go get help. You are destroying your marriage and your kids. Grow up, stop seeking the drama and get help with breaking the dysfunctional cycle.

 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29

20 From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. 21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:20-21

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 12:18-19

We have the power to build a happy marriage, well-adjusted kids, and a happily ever after and that power is in the words we use.

We have the power to wreck our marriage, destroy our kids, and trash our happily ever after and that power is in the words we use.

Watch your mouth!

Watch Your Mouth! Be careful with your words in your marriage. Speak kindly to your husband, wife. Holly K. Ross
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Kind words are like honey, marriage, romance, love, happily ever after
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The Garden That Love Planted

We all want someone who loves us this way.

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What is a Home?

What is a home?

What makes a house a home?  That question may be slightly different for each family, but it is the family that is essential to the home.  The structure could burn down, but the home would survive in the family that took it with them to the new location.

Home is much more than bricks, wood, or mortgage payments.  It is atmosphere, memories, unspoken or unwritten rules, it is essential.  Think about what you remember about your home growing up- you may have concrete memories of activities but those memories are wrapped in emotions.  That is the crucial key- emotions, atmosphere, the spirit of the place.  Was it a loving home, a home filled with fear, a home filled with laughter?  If your home was not a happy one, the good news it that you get a second chance.  You did not get to choose the home your were born in to, but you do get to choose the home you have now.  Now, you get to make your house a home and choose what you want to fill it with- laughter, happiness, good food, warm aromas and certainly the Spirit and peace of God.

To help women understand and to encourage them to make their house a home has been a long time passion for me.  Not that I have all the answers or make no mistakes, but I was fortunate to have a full time mother in my home growing up and she taught me many invaluable lessons.  I took those and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit,  improved upon them and set out to create a home in which my children could hear God speak, could be safe and free to be themselves, and would make many happy memories to look back on when they left home.  Not every home has children in it. Children are not what makes a house a home; however, if they are in the home they become a huge focus for as long as they are in your care.  The most essential element in the making of a home is the marriage.  If the marriage is not healthy, the home will not be, either.

Beginning with the end in mind is probably my mantra. If you want a marriage that stood the test of time, you must begin that journey with the mind set necessary to last the journey. If you want your children to leave home with a certain skill set or mind set or both, you have to begin parenting them when they are toddlers with those attributes that you desire in mind.  So that is what I did, I sought God and what he had in mind for my children and that is where I began.  Now, my four kids are 21, 19, 13, & 11.  I am seeing the fruit of all of our hard work- my husband is most certainly very involved- and it is good.  So, I desire to share what worked for me, what did not, & the lessons I learned as we have been on this journey.

Today, I am updating this post as I turn it from a page to a post. I love what I wrote 6 years ago. Those four kids are now 27, 25, 21, & 19. Two are fantastic mothers and business owners, one is about to graduate and go on to law school and one is currently beginning boot camp to become a United States Marine. What I have written is standing the test of time.

I pray that you will find the information in the pages and articles helpful, informative, and inspiring and I also hope you will laugh at the funny parts!  Without a sense of humor- life, marriage, & parenting will eat you up and spit you out!

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Getting More of What You REALLY Want- Intentionality

Since Jonathan swore an oath and joined the United Sates Marines the day before Thanksgiving, I have been living intentionally. The intention was to make the most memories, accomplish what really mattered to each of us, and to feel like we had properly closed this chapter in our lives.

We had the best time! I cooked the things he requested, planned the parties, the baptism and whatever else any of us wanted to do “one more time” before he shipped out and the schedule was not our own.

We hung out on the couch and watched our favorite movies or shows. This might be considered by some to be a waste of time. Not for us, this is how we bond. We pile up on one couch and laugh together then later we communicate in movie quotes. Movie quotes for us is like a secret language. This was an intentional waste of time and it was the best use of that time. I got to feel him resting his head on me one more time just like he did when he was little.

The last two weeks were especially perfect. It all happened because we were intentional about how we spent our time and what we did.

I came away from this time with a renewed desire to live intentionally. This is not new for me or us, but life got really intense for a couple of years and the intention of the day was to survive. That, my friend, is not living.

All of our married life we have asked ourselves what we wanted to have in 20 years or 50 years. What did we want our kids to look back and remember about home? What kind of marriage did we want? Then, every action or decision we made was based on those answers. Dose what we are doing move us toward that end goal? We haven’t been as intentional as I would like us to be.

So, Tony and I are having conversations about how we want to schedule our time and what memories we want to create. We are now living with intentionality again. You do have to schedule the important things or at least schedule time that gives enough space that the important things can happen.

intentionality

Pronunciation /ɪˈntɛnʃ(ə)nalɪti/ 

NOUN

mass noun

1The fact of being deliberate or purposive.

‘Therefore, intentionality and deliberate programming done in camps often resulted in positive youth development.’

More example sentences

Synonyms

1.1Philosophy The quality of mental states (e.g. thoughts, beliefs, desires, hopes) which consists in their being directed towards some object or state of affairs.

‘The latter, it will be recalled, is characterized by intentionality, directedness towards an object.’

http://www.lexico.com

Time goes by quickly. I want to look back as see a full life with the best memories.

Some of the things we are intentionally scheduling:

  • Sunrise fishing
  • sunrise kayaking
  • full moon gazing on the beach
  • family dinners
  • day trips with the grands
  • emails to family friends
  • hand-written letters
  • texts to friends and family
  • dinner with new friends
  • monthly hiking trips
  • weekly business meetings for us
  • regular fasting
  • prayer
  • and whatever else we think of.

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Happily Ever After

This guy- I don’t know what I would do without him.

Four babies have come and gone. They are building careers and families of their own.

We are back to the two of us. We loved the years of raising our chaotic zoo and it hurts to know that we are officially done with that season. But, we are excited to be a couple again.

We started young and it wasn’t the easy way (I don’t think an easy way exists when it come to raising a family) but I wouldn’t change a thing.

When we look at our crew, we are SO FREAKING PROUD!

Happily Ever After is a way of life for us.

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What Equals An Extraordinary Life?

Dead Poets Society- I love this movie. I find it inspiring and heartbreaking in equal parts. John Keating (played by Robin Williams) is attempting to open the eyes of his students to the idea that life can be more than what they have been told or what they have seen. Now, this causes problems but no one is left the same. Anytime someone challenges the status quo, there will be opposition.

Obviously, what some desired for their extraordinary lives others thought was wrong. So what makes for an extraordinary life?

Money? Huge House? Travel? Power?

I would wager that ,while those things above are out of the ordinary, these will not truely be extraordinary.

What I see people hungry for are those things that are not tangible. I feel I have an extraordinary life. What defines that for me is the relationships in my life mainly along with where I live and what I do for work and career.

Can I say that to have a relationship that is healthy and vibrant takes intentional work? These things do not happen by accident. Compatability is key, but compatablility is based largely on your perspective and reactions.

For example, Tony (my husband) is cautious and likes a book’s worth of information and time to think before he makes a decision. I lean towards risk and need only about a page of information and thirty seconds to make a decision. Tony does not love routine and scheduling or budgets. I adore routine and schedules and budgets make me feel secure. As you can see, our approach to just about everything is different. I looked at this as a positive, we balanced each other- and we do.

One evening while headed home from a Pampered Chef Party (about 20 years ago I was a Pampered Chef Lady) I turned on the radio and heard a program on marriage from Focus on the Family. Listening to the guests talk, I thought, “Wow, they sound just like me and Tony.” Because I jumped in the middle, I had not heard the title. Imagine my surprise when the title was announced, “How To Build a Marriage When You Are Not Compatible.”

Not Compatible?

What a shock, all this time I thought we were balanced. Actually, I did then and still think that is what we are- balanced. This is where perspective and reactions come in. I didn’t react to Tony’s need for more information as if he was wrong. He wasn’t wrong, he was just different. He doesn’t consider my tendency to jump before I look as a weakness. We balance. Our marriage is extraordinary.

I live in Galveston, Texas. I can walk to the beach daily, I watch the waves when I commute to work. Some may not really care about that, the beach doesn’t do anything for them. I find this VERY odd but you know- each to his own. Where I live is something and somewhere I consider extraordinary. Now, I could change my perspective. I could focus on the crazy traffic rules, the tourist that come here and act the fool, or the constant humidity of about 143%. But, I do not. I love this island and all its quirks.

Experiences- from buying ice cream from the ice cream truck on the BEACH (yes, that is a thing) with my grandbabies to snorkeling in Key West with my younger two kids and handsome husband is what makes life extraordinary. God has blessed me and I KNOW it!

What makes a life extraordinary? That is for you to answer. I hope you will pursue those things with all your heart.

These people make my life extraordinary. Thanks be to God in Heaven for the blessings.

Leave what makes your life extraordinary in the comments below- I want to know what it is for you!

Before you go- Please sign up for the newsletter. I will not fill your inbox with junk and I will never sell your information.

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This One Thing That Will Bring Peace to Your Marriage

Grace.

That is the one element that will make your marriage better. Grace will make any relationship you have better- including the relationship you have with yourself.

What is Grace exactly?

grace

Definition of grace

 (Entry 1 of 2)1a: unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification

b: a virtue coming from God

c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance

2a: APPROVALFAVOR stayed in his good graces

b archaic MERCYPARDON

c: a special favor PRIVILEGEeach in his place, by right, not grace, shall rule his heritage— Rudyard Kipling

d: disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency

e: a temporary exemption : REPRIEVE

3a: a charming or attractive trait or characteristic Among disagreeable qualities he possessed the saving grace of humor.

b: a pleasing appearance or effect CHARMall the grace of youth— John Buchan

c: ease and suppleness of movement or bearing danced with such grace

grace verb gracedgracing

Definition of grace (Entry 2 of 2)

1: to confer dignity or honor on The king graced him with the rank of a knight.

2: ADORNEMBELLISH graveled walks graced with statues— J. A. Michener

There is a lot to this one word, but I think the part that applies the most to marriage is “disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency“. Frequently, we demand more from those we live with, especially our spouse. We let our anger show, our impatience colors our words, and we keep a long list of flaws and mistakes. But, what would our marriage look like if we responded with grace instead of “justice” or harshness?

I think sometimes, especially for women, we think it is our duty or job to fix everyone around us. The world tells us that we do that by pointing our every flaw and demanding perfection. That isn’t how God does it. He offers GRACE every second of every day. If we are in a new season, he offers grace. If we are struggling, he offers grace. If we are learning a new way of being or doing, he offers grace.

Grace is key to living at peace.

My therapist once asked me what I wanted to remember in January when I thought about the holidays.

Peace- Joy- Reverence-Laughter- Ease

But most of all, in every season of my life, I want peace.

You need grace to have peace. You can’t be at peace with yourself if you don’t extend grace to yourself. You can’t live at peace with others if you don’t extend grace to others. There is a time for calling someone on their sh*&$. But those times are NOT everyday and not in every moment. Plus, if you are constantly busting someone over every flaw and mistake, they are not listening to you. However, if you deal grace like a drug dealer deals meth, people will listen when you come to them out of love and talk with them about a problem or pattern that needs attention.

GRACE should be thrown around like confetti on New Year’s Eve. Give it freely because God has certainly given it freely to you.

I also looked up antonyms for Grace:

Bitterness. Disapproval. Hostility. Unforgiveness.

Wow, sometimes you can learn more by looking at what something is not than what it is.

Jesus is our Prince of Peace. How fitting that His Father is a God of Grace.

Talk About It! The Biggest Hurdle in a Marriage

On this Marriage Monday, I want to talk about the biggest hurddle you have had to overcome in your marriage.

For me and my love, it has been communication. I am betting, that this has been yours. Even if wasn’t THE biggest hurdle, I can guarantee it was key to you overcoming that hurdle. Communication is key when building a marriage and probably the most challenging aspect early on.

With us, it wasn’t even that one of us didn’t want to communicate, it was that we didn’t understand the other’s communication style. Every person comes from a nuclear family- even if they spent the majority of their childhood in the foster system. That nuclear family, for better or for worse, defined how that person communicated. Mostly, the ways of communication are defined by all the unwritten rules.

The unwrittten rules of communication.

Those little devils can really make communication hard. Its been said that the devil is in the details and the unwritten rules of communication are the details.

Think about it. For those of you that grew up with your mom in the house, what did it mean when she huffed? I know exactly what it means when my mother huffs. I have a whole vocabulary of sighs that my kids and my husband understand. However, a stranger would have no idea.

But this is what we bring into our marriage with us.

In my family, we communicated loud. Like all the time. If you wanted to be heard at a family gathering, you had to be louder than the person sitting next to you. I am telling you, it is an introvert’s nightmare. I married an introvert. I thought for a long time, that he hated my family. He didn’t, he just needed a nap- but that is a topic for another post!

So, in the beginning Tony would say “Stop yelling” and I was like, “I am not yelling. Would you like me to yell so that you can see the difference?” Tony on the other hand is a man of few words. I had to learn what his body language meant. After 28 years, I am pretty good. I still miss it sometimes, so I am still a fan of using your words.

Another example of different communication styles is the phrasing that is used. Tony, being a laid back guy who is, well, nice- would aske me, “Are you ready to go?” To this I would reply, “Yes” or “No”. In the early years this caused problems because in his mind, he just told me he was ready to go. In my mind- he asked me a question. Where I came from, I watched all the men in my family walk in and say, “I am ready to go.” I thought all men did it that way. So, we had to hash that out in the car.

As time went on, I still expected him to be more direct, but I also realized that that wasn’t his way. I needed and loved the steady love he gave me, with that came an indirect approach to communication. I choose to acknowledge that when he aske me if I was ready to go, that he was politely telling me that he was ready. I then showed him love and respect by leaving then, or at least communicating when I would be ready.

It’s funny, but because he didn’t grow up with direct communication- everything that was said had underlying meanings- he didn’t take what I said as what I meant. Trust me- I don’t know any other way to be. If I don’t want to have a conversation or I want to avoid conflict- I just don’t say anything or I make noises of agreement. I don’t speak in veiled meanings because I don’t know how. Now, learning how to phrase things so that it doesn’t sound like you are attacking the other person is important.

How something is said is just as important as what is said when you are communicating with your spouse.

Regardless of where you came from, learning to communicate in your marriage is essential.

On marriagetoday.com, Jimmy Evans shares this:

That’s how you overcome conflicts: You talk through them. Talk about money. Talk about sex. Talk about parenting issues. One study showed that 86 percent of divorced couples admitted they had communication problems in their marriages.

https://marriagetoday.com/the-six-levels-of-communication-in-marriage/

86% of divorces might could have been avoided if they had learned how to communicate. If you are having trouble in your marriage, get some help. There are a plethora of articles online to help improve communication. Apply what you know from communicating with people at work to your spouse. If you wouldn’t call your coworker an idiot, then don’t call your spouse and idiot. If you wouldn’t tell your boss that he was the biggest loser you ever met, don’t tell that to your spouse.

Sometimes, communication is hard because we think we should get to say whatever we want to our spouse. We don’t. That person we promised to love and cherish to death do us part should get the best of what we have to offer- especially our words.

So, what has been your biggest hurdle to overcome in your marriage?