Merry Christmas from Our Family to Yours!

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Everybody's Got A Hungry Heart

Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name. Isaiah 49:1

Last night Michael and I were driving to Target (one of my favortie places...smile) and I asked him this, "Do you think that we were in heaven before we were born? You know how it says in the bible that He called us by name even before we were born? To me that kind of sounds like we may have been in heaven before we were here and because of that, we've had a taste of what heaven is. Being here on earth and away from such a place, we all walk around with an emptiness....a hunger...in our hearts that can only be filled by God and because we long to be with Him we keep searching through other means to try to fill the void; something that will bring, if only for a moment, a feeling of wholeness and completeness; love and acceptance."

He absolutely understood what I was getting at though he doesn't think we were in heaven before we were here. He said that because God breathed life into Adam - His spirit - there's a part of Him that is always with us. One of those things you know that you don't know or a feeling that's only a vapor yet deep to the point of an eternal ache that we all long to ease.

I think many of us (myself included) walk around with an emptiness in our hearts that we try to fill with things other than God; things like food, alcohol, sex, drugs, money....and the thing is ~ all of those are temporary and will never fully satisfy. How do we know? Because once the effect wears off we're still empty.

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me, that your soul may live. Isaiah 55:2-3

I don't know about you but this verse really speaks to me and is one that I've been meditating on a lot lately. I'd never even heard it until recently as I've been participating in a course from Setting Captives Free called The Lord's Table. It's powerful isn't it? And as I continue on and learn how to be satisfied by the bread and the wine that's my Savior ~ the richest of fare ~ I'm beginning to feel the first flutterings of life within my soul and am shaken by the knowledge that my heart no longer needs to go hungry or be empty.


Make Her Smile

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to make things...I believe "crafting" is the popular term these days and I do enjoy it immensely. I don't partake of every craft that's out there though I'm an avid knitter and have tried my hand at sewing, jewelry making, embelishing, scrapbooking and a few others. My dream is to one day have my own room in the house dedicated just for this very thing. Sigh.....

Of course, there's a whole world out there for people who like to craft and I love to check out various blogs and websites of others who share my passion and let me tell you...there are some amazingly gifted people out there! One of the really fun things I came across not long ago was a site that allows crafters to set up swaps for various hand made items which others of a like mind can participate in. It's super fun and not limited to a single type of craft. One of the most fun swaps that comes up from time to time is a "Smile Package" swap. Basically, one goes to the profile of the person who's been assigned to them and picks a variety of items from this, wraps them up and sends them out. Thus, the receiver "smiles" when she opens the package finding it filled with fun things that she absolutely loves!

I'm telling you it's so fun to get something like this in the mail! And...I think it's a great way for a husband to gain ideas from his wife of those little specialty items that she really wants but doesn't necessarily get for herself. So, listen up guys, I've come up with a list of ideas which you can give to your wife and ask her to add to. Tell her there's no right or wrong, no limit, nothing too silly or too serious. When she gives it back to you, refer to it each week and bless your wife with something from her list. You can mail it to her or give it to her personally. You can put 3-5 things together and give her a bigger "Smile Package" once a month (still remembering to give her a weekly gift, of course that does or does not come from this list) or give her something from it each week.

So, here are the ideas I came up with. Feel free to add another item as you think of it and then present it to your wife to fill out. And be sure to give it to her in a pretty way...nice paper, nice writing, as a scroll, in a card....you get the idea.

Favorite Music/Musician(s)

Favorite Books/Magazines (include favorite kinds too, i.e., cookbooks, craft books, design, etc.)

Favorite Television Programs

Favorite Stores


Favorite Accessories

Favorite Scents/Perfume

Favorite Makeup

Favorite Movies

Favorite Crafts

Favorite Snacks

Coffee/Tea/Both (flavors?/blends?/brands?)



I would absolutely love to see what the answers are for our readers. In fact, if you send your answers to us in the comments section, I will chose someone by January 25th to send a "Smile Package" to by the end of the month.

You'll love it!

And guys, your wife will love it too so hop to it!


A Husband's Journey To His Wife's Heart

Today we want to share a post with you which was written on Joel and Kathy's marriage forum to a man who's working to win his wife's (who left him about three weeks ago) heart back. It's a great lesson on what the process looks like for a husband as he walks this out.

Get out your pen and paper guys and take notes!

You have your work cut out for you. Making a safe place for a woman who has been lied to, unsafe from your anger and your defensiveness is a long process. Give your effort to becoming the man of God that pursues not only his wife with a passion, but pursues the Lord and becoming Christlike in word and in deed. She is your best hope. She loved you enough to give you Joel and Kathy's book and she loved you enough to give you the opportunity to change.

Now it is time to work as hard as you have worked at anything in your life to take advantage of that love that remains in her heart. There is a lot of hope in this situation. She was unwilling to go forward doing marriage in the former sick dance. She tried for years to get you to hear her heart, which was always God's way of working through your wife to shave off those areas in your life which didn't line up with a loving, Christlike model. But your unwillingness to embrace her as the "the gift" kept you from the happy, hope filled life that all people want, and that comes to those who walk in obedience to the Lord and in the power and strength of relationship with Christ. Be consistent. Be patient with the process, but work your butt off. You can accomplish so much now that you are finally teachable and willing to hear the truth that you rejected for so long.

Are you on the conference calls yet? Those are very beneficial for learning from others questions and the helpers replies. You also will hear other men, behaving badly sometimes on the calls: being defensive, selfish, arrogant. Be careful not to judge them, but instead recognize your own face in their voices. Journal your thoughts in these times, so that when you are able to have conversations with your wife, when she is willing to begin talking to you again, you will be able to recall and share specifics about how you have injured her with your behavior and your attitudes. There are layers and layers of injury. Some quite apparent, and some are more subtle and therefore insidious. Turn over every rock and begin to identify these, because you will be asked to right a list of all the ways you have been a hurtful, uncaring, selfish husband and thereby injured your precious, loving bride.

In the beginning, your words are not to be trusted by her. She needs to see your behavior lining up with your words. Being here on the boards and signing up for an intensive are a very good demonstration of your intentions to work hard and a good faith effort that she can see. Consistent hard work. That is what she needs to see. She will decide when you are safe. You do not get to tell her that you are safe. You just become a safe man. She will know in her spirit, and will make the choice to reengage in dialogue when she is convinced that it will be a positive outcome and not just another opportunity for shallow words, broken promises, deception, and the abusive blaming of her for all your problems.

This is an awesome new journey for you. God is gracious and is the giver of second and third chances. But God does not protect us from the consequences of our previous choices. You need to experience the pain of the cost of the loss of relationship with a loving, good woman. Let that pain sit with you and inform you of all the damage that caused it. Let that information be the beginning of your understanding of what not to do. Let your wife's words and requests be the beginning of your understanding of what to do to become the man that God always intended for you to be. The husband you were always meant to be. The father your children need you to be. She is your help meet. She is the gift of God specifically for you. Thank God for his awesome grace and understanding of just what you needed to become God's man in your journey on this earth.

Isn't it great not to have to hide anymore? You are coming out hiding and out of the deception and lies you had embraced because of your fear and pride and are being willing to embrace your own brokenness and your need of our Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Hold on, brother. It is going to be a wild ride, with ups and downs and a lot of twists and turns. Get used to not being in control of the outcome of your efforts. You just do what you know is right for you to do and let the seed of your efforts be watered by your consistency and let God bring forth the fruit In His Time, not yours.

This is great counsel and direction from a wife who's husband has been working to win her heart. As you can see, it's not an easy process though walking the narrow path to Christ isn't without it's difficulties. Still, the reward far outshines those difficulties.

Don't forget to dial in to our marriage ministry call this evening at 7pm (just look to sidebar at the right for the dial in information) to get some help for your marriage or just listen in to discover what it's all about.

Remember, if we can do it...You Can Do It Too!

We pray that your Christmas is blessed and merry and that God would be at the center of your celebration! Merry Christmas!


Turn That Frown Upside Down

I've often been asked by co-workers, friends and family (namely, Michael) if I'm angry when I'm not angry in the slightest. When I respond with, "Not at all, why do you ask?" I'm told that I look angry and so it's assumed that I am.

I haven't given much thought to this except that usually when I'm asked this it's when I'm busy and am concentrating on whatever it is I'm doing. I guess I get into a kind of zone which shows up as a scowl on my face. And, I've observed over the years, my mom does the same thing and it's something that I find somewhat annoying and the fact that I'm showing up in a similar way is disconcerting, to say the least.

I seriously have no idea why I do this. Apparently, I was doing it last night because Michael brought it to my attention when he asked if I was angry with him. Now, let me just say that I have a cold and I'm pms-ing which ~ ladies, I'm sure you'll agree ~ may constitute a scowl now and then. Nevertheless, wanting to genuinely be about Michael and hear what he had to say (without getting defensive or explaining myself) I asked him to be more specific.

Three years of him listening to my heart hasn't made it much easier for me to not "feel" defensive or the need to explain myself and I know this is my issue as I have a choice not to feel that way. Yet, there it was...rearing it's ugly head. I didn't get crazy or storm off. I did receive what he was saying and took it to heart. He's been blessing me so much and I want him to be happy and blessed with me as well.

Not scowling doesn't mean that I have to wear a plastic smile on my face all the time and change my name to Susie Cream Cheese. It's just an awareness to have a pleasant and welcoming countenance when I'm with people; especially people whom I love and who love me in return. Part of dying to self and being about another even when I don't feel well or am wrapped up in a project.

In a nutshell: More of you Lord...less of me.

Michael and I sure hope you'll join us tonight on our couples marriage ministry call. It's super easy to participate ~ just dial 512-716-6531 access code is 981128# We begin at 7pm (pst) and go anywhere from 3-5 hours depending on how much help people need. If you'd prefer to just listen in and not speak that's fine, just be sure to mute out your phone to eliminate any background noise.
If you're considering coming to one of our Marriage Victory Intensives, just give us a call at 562-438-7248. Our next one will be held in Anaheim, CA February 18-21, 2010. Space is limited to six couples so be sure to get registered soon.
Remember, if Michael and Annalea can do....You Can Do It To!



Every time you turn around these days, you hear of another person, couple or family who's struggling financially. I can't think of one person we know who hasn't felt the hit of the recent economic upheaval that's affected our country. We're all looking for ways to cut back so that there's enough for the basics and with the holidays upon us well....it may be time to rethink the Wii and replace it with a board game that the whole family can enjoy (I still think homemade gifts are the best and have every intention of making sure that each recipient on my list gets something I've made but that's another post for another time...maybe even another blog). I digress.

I recently spoke with a pastor to whom we'd sent information with regard to our ministry and Intensive information. One of the things he'd noted was the cost of our Intensive and felt that it was a bit high given the current state of affairs. He also mentioned that their church offers many free forms of marriage ministry and yet they still have a shortage of married couples signing up for and attending these venues. In fact, their participating married couples has dropped from 200 active couples to 60.

That's huge.

And I have some thoughts on this. First, they may need to review the material that they're presenting to the couples; a 70% decrease in attendance begs to be reckoned with. Many couples don't want their pastors or other members of the congregation to know that they're having problems (especially if they're in any type of leadership role) and oftentimes, by the time they come in to see their pastor (if they've chosen to do so) they're already so far gone that it's practically impossible to pull them back from the brink.

These same couples may also say that they don't have the money for counceling, marriage workshops and the like. Yet we all know, whether from personal experience or the experience of a friend or family member, the high cost involved in divorce, both monitarily and emotionally.

Can I just tell you, Michael and I spent thousands of dollars towards saving our marriage when we were in crisis and the thing is, it wasn't the money...it was the message which, for us, happened to come from the help that cost the least. That was the message and teaching we received from Joel and Kathy Davisson of God Save My Marriage and it's their teaching that we present at our Marriage Intensives - the same we received two and a half years ago.

In fact, the following information comes from Joel and Kathy's website and, with their permission, I'm presenting it here to you. Now, I've no idea what the teaching and message is of these weekend intensives. What I do know is that they're a lot more expensive then our intensives and it would be interesting to see how their past attendees are doing in their own marraiges (note that the prices also do not include accomodations).

Example #1 Shared Small Group Retreat
You and your partner join one to three other couples to share a retreat together. A maximum of four couples participate. The duration of the retreat is about 14 hours spread over two days, plus about four hours of pre-work and homework. This type of retreat is usually offered on weekends. The cost is $1,300 per couple. Travel, meals and accommodations are not included. (Price Comparison - Our Weekend is $490 per couple.)

Example #2 The Marriage Boot Camp
This Day Program is for couples only. Our Marriage Boot Camp program is run in conjunction with Life Enrichment Boot Camp. Couples will attend both the day and evening program. Marriage Boot Camp times are usually Wednesday - Friday 10:00 A.M. - 11:00 P. M. And Saturday 10:00 A.M. - 10:00 P.M. Marriage Boot Camp attendees will have a one hour lunch break and an hour and a half dinner break each day. The price for attending Marriage Boot Camp is $1,200.00 per couple. (Note: Can be up to 50 people at a bootcamp) (Price Comparison - Our Weekend is $490 per couple.)

Example #3 Weekend Intensive for couples.
All seminars are from Thursday through Sunday and follow the following schedule:
Thurs: 10 am – 9 pm
Fri: 10 am – 9 pm
Sat: 10 am – 8 pm
Sun: 10 am – 5 pm
Cost: $1,998 per couple – (price includes 32 hours of training, 5 meals, COREMap Personality Profile, portofolio and a 10 week follow-up series) (Price Comparison - Our Weekend is $490 per couple.) . Held in a Dallas hotel environment, our four day event begins on Thursday at 10:00 AM and goes through the end of the day on Sunday. You and your spouse are welcome to book a room in the workshop hotel each night, however, you are only required to stay overnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

Example #4 - 3 Day Marriage Intensives
Most couples choose a 3 day Marriage Intensive even when there are serious, complex issues. Most couples struggling with infidelity issues find a 3 Day appropriate. The cost of a 3 day Marriage Intensive is $2795. (Price Comparison - Our Weekend is $490 per couple.)
4 and 5 Day Marriage Intensives: 4 and 5 Day Marriage Intensives are most appropriate for couples who have an uneven commitment level in the relationship. When there are complex step-family issues, a 4 or 5 Day Intensive can be the most helpful. 4 Day Intensives are scheduled throughout the month. 5 Day Intensives are offered only once a month. The cost of a 4 Day Marriage Intensive is $3695. The cost of a 5 Day Intensive is $4595. (Price Comparison - Our Weekend is $490 per couple.)

Of course, Michael and I would love for couples to come see us on the west coast and experience one of our Marriage Victory Intensives. We also realize that there will be couples who only want to see the originators of God Save My Marriage - Joel and Kathy Davisson - and we totally get that! Hey, we saw them when we went to our Intensive and they're amazing! The cost of Joel's and Kathy's Intensive is $590 which is still an incredible value.

If you find that your marriage is in crisis, we urge you to seek help, even if it's not with us. And while we understand that it may still happen, the cost if divorce is great indeed.

The cost of a restored marriage?



How 'Bout A Quickie?

In my opinion, making love is one of the privileges of marriage. You both can partake of one another whenever and wherever you wish. It's a wonderful way to stay connected and bonded to each other and, I daresay, it keeps the enemy at bay. In fact, I made sure that Michael and I made love before and during (when we got home, of course) our recent Marriage Intensive; the enemy not being a fan of restoration or us teaching about it.

If you've read any of the material from God Save My Marriage or been on any of the weekly calls, (especially Joel and Kathy Davisson's), you'll have heard much talk on a wife blessing her husband with a "quickie" if she's tired or not quite in the mood yet having been blessed by him throughout the day. This is perfectly acceptable and we've been there ourselves on many occasions.

Recently however, at our last Intensive, one of the female participants and I had a bit of a light bulb moment. How about indulging in a "quickie" that, shall we say, favors the wife? I mean, there's no written rule that it has to be just for the two or just the husband, right? And...this would be a wonderful lesson in dying to self for a husband! After all, he's not going to melt if he's not the one who's concentrated on (you know what I mean - just trying to be tactful here)! So, give it go guys and gals. Husbands, bless your wife in this way and bless her often and just see if she doesn't bless you in return! And ladies, don't be afraid or hold back from asking for this.

Michael often says that we're just beginning to scratch the surface on many levels as our marriage is getting restored and I couldn't agree with him more.

In fact, I'm feelin' kinda itchy right now...

Where IS he?!?