Mustard Potatoes & Afternoon Delight

One of the things that Joel and Kathy recommend to couples is for them to spend as much time together as possible. This even carries into working together ~ such as having a home business ~ which is something that Michael and I do. We don't have a home business, per se, but we work out of our home with this ministry, flipping properties and currently, Michael is getting back into his former business of mortgage finance. So, we spend a lot of time together at home making things happen!

And I gotta tell ya, as long as I get out on my own a few hours a week - we love it! For example, today I've got the fabulous mustard potatoes shown above roasting in the oven (recipe can be found a here at Smitten Kitchen, an uh-MAY-zing food blog I just found today) which we're going to enjoy for lunch, we talk, we touch ~ fabulous lovemaking afternoons when the baby is sleeping ~ we work, we catch up on shows we've missed, we go for walks, play with the kids....we're just together and it's lovely.

In our bad days, I dreaded going to work with Michael. Now...I look forward to it! What a difference some healing makes.



Today we're talking about forgiveness and the difference between one having godly sorrow and being sorry they got caught. When someone has offended another person in a way that's deeply hurtful, forgiveness may occur though forgetting the offense can be near impossible yet this is what's often asked of the one offended. Michael and I share what this looked like for us and why restitution and closure are so important in bringing healing.

Be sure to join us tonight on our weekly marriage ministry call at 7pm (pst) ~ dial in information is located in the sidebar ~ and our next Marriage Intensive is filling up fast. If you're thinking of registering just shoot us a quick email to let us know and we'll assist you in getting signed up.



A Note Of Praise!

We love being able to come to you with a praise report and this week's Testimony Tuesday video is just that. This past weekend, we had the opportunity to visit with one of the couples who was at our last Marriage Victory Intensive and we were so blessed to see the very real change in their marriage.

We tell you all about it in the video so be sure to press play and check it out. Oh yeah....don't be too freaked out by the blond sitting next to Michael. She absolutely has my (and Michael's) permission to be there.

I know...a bit overzealous with the bleach bottle but Hey! I can always dye it back. Please be sure to join us tonight for our weekly marriage ministry call. Dial in information is in the side bar to the right of this post ~ we'd love to have you on and even if you're not comfortable speaking up just yet, please introduce yourself (selves) during roll call and let us know that you're from the blog.

That would be so cool! We love you and remember,

if Michael and Annalea can do it...You Can Do It Too!



Rules, Boundaries and Limitations!

Those of you who are familiar with Cesar Millan and have watched his show, The Dog Whisperer, will be familiar with those three words. Not only are they important in rehabilitating a dog, I daresay they also fit in our Christian walk and in our marriages.

Michael and I are convinced that a lot of what Cesar says on his show fits for human relationships (remember, he trains people) as well those of a canine nature. Recently, we were watching an episode in which Cesar was working with a woman who had two Doberman Pinschers ~ a male and a female ~ and some of the things he said were so awesome we got out a piece of paper and wrote them down because they can completely crossover to marriages.

"Dogs don't follow unstable energy. Humans are the only ones who follow unstable energy." Hello, wives who stay with their abusive husbands.

"Nervous energy cannot rehabilitate. We have to bring to the moment what we want to get out of it." Hello husbands trying to win their wives hearts.
"Rushing through the day just to try to get what we want only produces that fight or flight sense from those we're trying to get something from." How many of us have experienced that, especially in our marriages?

"I'm not doing this to hurt you. I'm doing this to remind you that we have to get back to a balance." How many times have you felt the Lord saying this to you?

This last one really gets me. It's like the Lord saying, "Rules, Boundaries and Limitations. Not to hurt you. To help you, to grow you, to refine you."

Just some food for thought.


Think Your Wife Is Overreacting? Part 2

As we mentioned in last weeks video ~ Think Your Wife Is Overreacting? ~ this is a topic we could talk about for a long time so we decided to make a part two to follow up a bit more.

Guys, your wife isn't being unreasonable or insatiable or over-the-top about certain things. She's been deeply wounded, by you, for a number of years and, as you bring healing to her, there may be times when she speaks and reacts to you from that wounding.

Don't freak out. Don't get defensive, or justify, or tell her she's crazy or break out a laundry list of all the good you've been doing. Just be with her in it.

Did you get that?

Be with her in it.

Validate her. Love on her. Tell her your sorry - even if you didn't do what's she's saying or you think she's cookoo bananas.

Represent Christ to your bride.

Men of God, You Can Do This!

We Believe In You!!!


Removing The Scales

Today in church our pastor ended his sermon by sharing a passage from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis. This passage tells of Eustace, cousin of the Pevensie children and a very selfish bully of a boy who is transformed into a dragon as a result of sleeping on a dead dragon's hoard with "greedy, dragon-ish thoughts" in his heart. When Eustace meets Aslan, the scales he's been trying to remove himself and painfully removed by Aslan with the desired result. It's a beautiful picture of the redemption which occurs when we choose to follow Christ. I think the passage is worth sharing.

"The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. but the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don't know if he said any words out loud or not.

I was just going to say that I couldn't undress because I hadn't any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that's what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and , instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I jsut stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.

But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that's all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I'll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.

Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.

The the lion said - but I don't know if it spoke - 'You will have to let me undress you.' I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

The very first tear he made was do deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know - if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.

Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt - and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I, as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me - I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on - and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again. You'd think me simply phoney if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they've no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian's, but I was so glad to see them.

After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me - (with his paws?) - Well, I don't exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes - the same I've got on now, as a matter of fact. and then suddenly I was back here. Which is what makes me think it must have been a dream."


Brown Spots On Bananas

Last night I dreamed about Michael. He was sitting at our dining room table in that way that he used to ~ up straight, legs crossed, arms across his chest ~ with that look on his face ~ flat features, condescending and accusing eyes, unmoving. There was a bowl of bananas in front of him and he was very calmly and precisely blaming me for the brown spots that covered them.

There is a ridiculousness to this scene that is only the stuff of dreams.

Yet this is the same ridiculousness that permeated his past accusations of me in our bad days. In my dream, I stood before him, flabbergasted, enraged, incredulous....deeply hurt. F-ing this, F-ing that. I can't believe you're blaming ME for the brown spots on these bananas! What's wrong with you? Seriously...what the F is WRONG WITH YOU?!?

But, there he sat. Unmoved. Unwilling. Absolutely convinced. Every word I said reflected back to me in his blank stare. It didn't matter what I said. I was done.

Obviously, there's still some deep hurt and anger within me that needs healing.

You may be reading this and thinking, "Holy S***! She's still hurt and angry after all this time? That doesn't sound very comforting."

I know. I get it, I really do. Here's the thing though. I told Michael about my dream when I woke up this morning. He didn't get defensive. He didn't justify. He didn't break out a laundry list of everything he's been doing over the last several years to bring healing to my heart. He quietly said, "It's not over yet." I know he means that my healing isn't over yet. He gets it. He's still in it with me.

I know this about him - about his commitment level and at that point it would have been horribly easy (fear of intimacy on my part) to leave it there and stuff the sadness, hurt and anger I was feeling, hop out of bed and go start some coffee. I didn't though. I cried ~ a lot ~ which was big for me because it would have been so much easier to put up a wall and keep Michael at a distance. Instead, I let myself trust him. I let myself be vulnerable. And guess what? The walls didn't cave in on me...Michael didn't run away or shut me down. He let me cry, held me and reassured me of his love for me; expressing sorrow over the shameful way he treated me in our bad days.

I know there's more healing and growing to come for us both and I'm SO blessed that Michael is willing to live this out with me. And you know what's cool? The bananas resting in our fruit bowl right now are a deep, golden yellow.

Not a spot to be seen.

I checked. I'm silly like that.


Give Away Time!!!

A recent discovery of over 100 posts on our blog has put us in the mood to celebrate! So...we've decided to give away ~ to one of our awesome readers ~ one of Joel and Kathy Davisson's books, The Man of Her Dreams The Woman of His! This is the first book they ever wrote and the initial information we got a hold of to get our marriage from hopelessness, despair and divorce papers to one of Outrageous Happiness. We want to share this with one lucky reader.

Watch the video below to find out how to enter this give away and post your comment.

We're excited! We hope you are too!


High Expectations!

I'm not sure about you, but before I ever got married I would often hear and read that I shouldn't have high expectations of my marriage or my husband because they're weren't realistic and would just cause failure. I heard a lot along the lines of, "...that's just how men are" and "...all that changes after you get married."

Since I didn't hear anything to the contrary I just assumed that that's what I should expect which wasn't a comforting thought, to say the least. In my first marriage, my husband and I hardly ever made love and when I would bring it up to him, he would tell me that that was normal for most marriages and I would respond with, "but why does our marriage have to be like 'most marriages'?"

Think about it, when our husbands were dating and courting us, they gave us compliments, held our hands, told us we were beautiful, took us out, bought us gifts, talked with us on the phone until late into the night, sent us flowers, shared their hopes and dreams, wore cologne, laughed with us, sent us cards....THIS, my fine gentlemen, is what we said YES to. We blossomed beneath this treatment and responded in kind. I mean, who wouldn't right? And yet, for some inexplicable reason, most of these wonderful things stopped happening shortly after 'I Do' or not long after the first year or two of marriage.

Remember though, we were told (and I'm sure guys were to) not to have high expectations of our marriages and husbands so we just accepted that this is how it was supposed to be.

The net result? Sadness, boredom, settling, physical and emotional affairs, unhappiness, depression, prozac, romance novels, alcohol, poor self image, overeating, making the children our priority, crying, yelling, checking out....divorce.

We tried. Oh man, did we try! With the broken record playing in the background that said that's just how men are, that's just how women are, that's just marriage, that's what happens after you have kids, at least he doesn't hit you or sleep around, at least she's a good cook and keeps the house clean, at least you still have sex sometimes...

We stop having high expectations of one another and for our marriages because we're told to.

Here's the thing though...high expectations within our marriages can be embraced and realized. God has high expectations of us and for us and there's no reason at all why that shouldn't hold true in marriage. So go ahead, think big! Ladies, expect your husband to pursue you as he did when you were dating. Expect him to treat you like a queen. Guys, expect your wife to blossom like a rose when you are being that man that God has called you to be and loving her with a Christ-like love. Expect to be able to meet her needs and become the man of her dreams.

Do this, and she will become the woman of yours!



Think Your Wife Is Overreacting? Think Again!

Something that's been coming up lately in our conversations with Christian married couples is husbands thinking that they're wives are overreacting to a certain situation or memory. Today we're sharing with you why this comes up, where it comes from and ~ husbands ~ how to stop it in it's tracks. We also realized in making this video, that we really could talk on this topic a lot more and we will so stay tuned.

Hope to have you dial in tonight to our weekly marriage ministry call at 7pm (pst). You'll find the numbers you need to the right in our side bar. If you do call, please say "Hi!" during role call and let us know that you're on and remember....

if Michael and Annalea can do it....You Can Do It Too!


And The Oscar Goes To.....

Ryan Bingham! For thanking his wife first!!!

Way to go Mr. Bingham! You rock for making your wife your #1 priority on national television (or was it worldwide?!?)!

(watch this - sorry about the commercial)


Protecting Your Marriage

Protecting your marriage is vitally important for the health and longevity of the relationship. This may seem like a no-brainer but you'd be surprised at how many Christian husbands and wives don't make this a priority in their lives.

Today, I (Annalea) am talking about social networks and how we need to guard ourselves and our marriages from something that seems really benign but can turn out to be a steel trap if we're not careful.

Also, if there's been infidelity in the marriage, internet porn or chatrooms, secret cel phones or email accounts then we must guard all the more. This is not for control, it's because marriage is a one flesh relationship, not his and hers. It's because when we got married amongst much pomp and circumstance it was to celebrate a woman being set apart for her husband and a man being set apart for his wife.

We're no longer single...no longer looking out for A #1.

Now we look out for and protect one another and our marriages.

It was kind of funny to me after I made the video that in talking about how important it is to present ourselves as one flesh ~ even on social network sites ~ I was making the video without Michael! So, I made sure to check in with him before I uploaded it here and that he was cool with everything. I even offered to remake it with him if he wanted me to. He was fine. His heart safely trusts me and our grass is greener because Michael tends to our yard throughout the day in a way that blesses us both.

All that to say please don't neglect the importance of safeguarding your marriage in this way. The enemy will walk in through any door that's open to him.

Especially the one's we forget to lock.