Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day #34- Love Celebrates Godliness - Jennifer

Who doesn't want to hear good things about themselves especially coming from their spouse?

This is such an important dare. Lifting up your mate for their godly actions.

Eric's love language is words of affirmation and I have to admit I don't do this often enough. This morning was great, I only had to think for a second to know what I was going to tell him.

His loyalty to God, me, our family and AMFM is huge. His leadership qualities are untouchable. And his ability to speak truth to any and everyone is amazing to me. He is strong in his faith, absolutely unwavering!

He sounds too good to be true, but anyone who knows Eric will tell you it's all true. These are the qualities I fell in love with years ago and keep me loving him today!

Day #34 - Love Celebtrates Godliness - Eric

This was a no-brainer Dare for me.

Jennifer stopped me this morning and shared some of her thoughts regarding me. As a husband it was very affirming for me to hear what she had to say.

For me it was easy to share with Jennifer regarding this Dare.

Jennifer is the most caring person I know. She is a true friend, even to people she does not really know that well. She has the gift of service and truly models how Christ walks out life here on earth.

She is not perfect, but she is loving, caring, and trust-worthy, that says a lot!

She is loyal and this is a value that has been lost in our country, even in the church culture.

This Dare is great for us guys. It really makes us reflect on how the Lord has gifted our wives.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day #33 - Love Completes Each Other- Jennifer

Remember in the fireproof movie when Michael gives Caleb the example of the rose?

Michael tells Caleb that a woman is like a rose, treat her right and she'll blossom, but don't and she'll wilt. This is such a great example for this dare.

When a man values his wife's opinion and will allow her to express herself she flourishes and becomes self confident. But when we are belittled or thought less of than we are drawn inward and become bitter.

Men have a huge responsibility in how they treat their brides. I am very blessed to have a husband that understands this and publicly brags about me.

When's the last time you've bragged about your mate in public? Tell them how much you value their opinion and just see what will happen.

Day #33 - Love Completes Each Other - Eric

Many years ago Jennifer and I stopped everything we were doing and decided to process life together. Try to take the principle of becoming one and live it out. In doing this we made a commitment to each other to include each other in each others lives very intentionally.

One thing you learn real quick in your decision making process is to take two separate people and get them on the same page.

Also, you must take the time to honor your spouse by allowing them to share their views and express their opinions. This is not always real easy when you are as driven of a person as I am.

While in the process of intentionally having your spouse engaged in your life and you in theirs, you find life becoming "your life together" (Our Life, not my life). This will open your eyes to how valuable your spouse is in completing you and not competing with you.

You will see how God can bring two individuals together to truly, with Him become one. This Dare can be a WOW factor in your marriage so take the Dare!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day #32 -Love meets sexual needs - Jennifer

Eric says it so well in his blog. You should read his first.

As women we have heard a lot on how we should initiating sex more. But that is not always easy when God created us more like crock pots, and need warmed up!

If men want fulfilled in their sex life than the best thing they can do is to honor, cherish and love their brides! You can not be harsh with your wife the night before and throughout the next day and an hour before you want sex start being nice and attentive to your wife. It just doesn't work that way!

The reason I didn't hesitate when Eric wanted to make this dare a two day affair, was because for the last 31 days he has been caring and attentive to me. He has shown love to me in so many different ways going through the Love Dare.

Men, if your excuse for not being honoring and respectful to your wife is because she is not respectful to you then you will remain very frustrated in your sex life.

Be a gentleman, step up to the plate and lead in this area!

Wives give him a chance, initiate even if you don't feel like it knowing that by the end it will be worth it!

Day #32 - Love Meets Sexual Needs - Eric

Okay, I must admit that I suggested to Jennifer that we make this Dare a two day project, Oh Ya! and she agreed - Yes!

Sexual Intimacy is an issue that is often one of disconnect for so many couples that is why we must take the time to process it. Since it is so private who does a couple go too, to have this conversation, it takes a very safe environment...

Here is what I have learned in our marriage over the past 17 years. The Lord truly designed sexual intimacy between a husband and wife to take place as a celebration of their relationship. It is totally off the charts and both spouses are fulfilled when they are living a healthy marriage. If there is a disconnect in your relationship it just does not work like the Lord has planned it to.

This is something you must process with your spouse, not just assume they are on the same page with you. Generally speaking, find out what they enjoy and as you serve them you will find your needs are met too.

This is a big Dare for some so take the time and process it with your spouse because God has given you both needs in this area, but if they are never expressed you will never enjoy all that God has in this area of your marriage.

Note: If this is an area of disconnect or pain in your marriage please spend time in prayer and ask the Lord to prepare you as you communicate with your spouse. The Lord can truly give you a new day with your spouse in your sexual intimacy...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day # 31 Love and Marriage - Eric & Jennifer

This dare is a continuation from the last dare. Leave, Cleave and become one. This is very hard to do if a couple has not severed the ties of past relationships, mainly parents.

Both of us are very fortunate to have wonderful, Godly parents. They both have been married over 50 years and set a great foundation for us as we went into our married adventure.

Through the years they have been our biggest cheerleaders. They have allowed us to make our own decision as a married couple even when they didn't always think they were good decisions.

One example of leaving and cleaving was our decision to take some time off, get a place in Alaska and live there half of the year. Everyone thought we where nuts, everyone. This move as a couple was the beginning of what we are doing today, serving others.

As we've been heavily involved with marriage ministry this seems to be a topic that can be at the core of arguments. Don't let that happen to you. Listen to each other, wives understand that your husband is accountable to God for the decisions he makes for your family so it's easy to submit to him as head of the house when you realize the big responsibility he has.

So, how have you made your move to leave and cleave?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day #30 - Love Brings Unity - Eric

Unity - being on the same page and acting as ONE.

When I read this Dare it made me stop and think about the last time I had heard a sermon on, leave, cleave and become ONE. This is spoken to at least 4 times in the Bible, but no one seems to preach on it.

I learned a long time ago in my marriage that being on the same page and processing life with Jennifer was very important. As you intentionally drive toward each other and remove points of disconnect it is amazing how much the Lord allows your marriage to grow.

This Dare is a cornerstone for a successful marriage. Take on this Dare and commit to it. Make it known to your spouse that you are committed to ONENESS then move the commitment to action with your spouse working through the process with you.

You can begin this Dare by simply developing an activity that both you and your spouse do together. Walk, hike, workout, boat, the arts, etc..., remember that it is the little things that mean so much over time.

Have fun!

Day # 30 - Love Brings Unity - Jennifer

2 becoming 1 - This is the very reason Eric and I have a passion for marriage ministry. Seeing couples learn to be united in marriage. Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us that "A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." A couple united, with God at the center of their relationship is hard for satan to penetrate with his schemes.

Find something that the two of you as a couple enjoy doing together. Bowling, running, working out together, cooking, whatever it might be do it together. Then start doing something together that grows your faith. Devotions, praying, serving in church together or maybe your start would be going to church together.

These are two ways of becoming one, but the most important that we all have to work at is being one in decision making. Probably one of the hardest things to do at times in our relationship.

Eric and I have been working on this concept for 7-8 years now, have we achieved it, we're close, better sometimes than at others but our marriage has benefited so much from intentionally being one!

Day #29 - Love's Motivation - Eric

Today was a fast one but once again intentionality plays such a big role in these Dares and in creating good habits in your marriage.

Jennifer and I did not have any time in the office together so coming up with a tangible way to say I Love You did not come easy for me.

As for the prayer part, I always enjoy closing my nights and opening my days praying for Jennifer, and the kiddos. But as I pray for Jennifer, her needs and the Lord's blessings on her it really drives me to be so very thankful for her. I am blessed!

Back to the "tangible thing", Jennifer loves her Starbucks coffee so I picked one up for her. It was a small thing but it was a tangible one. We did have some great hang out time, no kids, just the two of us.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day # 29 - Love's Motivation - Jennifer

Today was a fun dare. I worked from home so we only saw each other in passing this morning. I had a good amount of time to pray for Eric today, and it's amazing how my love for him deepens when I pray for him and his needs and for blessings on him.

The dare says to say I love you and then show it in a tangible way. Turn of events made it where I was the only one home when Eric came in the door. I had dinner ready and we were able to sit together and talk by ourselves a whole 10min.

Eric's way of showing love to me, besides the normal kiss and hug when he comes home was the quick trip to Starbucks to get me a coffee on the way to the game. Totally his idea!

It was fun just hanging out and enjoying each other's company.

Day # 28 - Love Makes Sacrifices - Jennifer

The last hand full of dares have been deep and definitely growing opportunities, so this dare came as refreshing to me.

This dare reminds me of Selfless love. Instead of how can he meet my needs, it's how can I meet his needs. Isn't that what it's suppose to be in a relationship? It sure was when we were first married when we still had starry eyes for each other.

It's easy for all of us to get so busy we don't have time to meet each others needs. We might just have to clear out some of the "stuff" in our days so we can focus on what's really important. Even if that means saying no to some of our kid's activities.

Eric was a sweetheart last night. He watched a movie with the kids while I met with some girlfriends, and then washed up the dinner dishes. Wow I was so surprised. He's often good at putting the dishes into the dishwasher which I'm always grateful. But last night he actually washed the big stuff too! Kudos to Eric!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day #28 -Love Makes Sacrifices - Eric

All of us can really lock onto this Dare. Asking such a simple question like, what can I do for you today to lighten your load? or How can I serve you?

The words seem simple but making it part of your ever day life is not. We are all so busy that we seldom take the time to stop and ask our spouse how we can make their day a little easier.

Jennifer asked me today as we where running out to pick me up something for lunch. My reply was, you already have. You have taken at least 4-6 things off my desk this morning and that is a big deal.

Me, I called Jennifer on the way home from the office and spoke those magical words, what can I do to make your evening better? She replied with a couple answers and I was ready to give her a hand. So as the evening went on I did what she said would help her and while she was meeting with her friends praying I even clean the kitchen for her.

Yes, even I can do some of those very hard duties around the house...

This is a great Dare! Take it on and ask the question!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day # 27 - Love Encourages - Jennifer

Hope deferred makes the heart sick. Prov. 13:12

Through the years I have been reminded of this scripture which I first read in Hinds Feet in High Places. This scripture has grounded me so many times when I have felt myself become anxious.

Christian young women are the best at praying for a godly husband, and when the Lord brings Mr. right into their lives and they marry him they are devastated because Mr. Right isn't at all perfect. Expectations are high in our society today.

So let me bring this down to Eric and me. How would you like to live AND work with a perfectionist? I have to admit it drives me crazy at times but I wouldn't want it any other way. See that same personality that is a perfectionist is also strong in his beliefs, he doesn't waver or back down when it comes to ethics or morals. He's a leader and that strong lion who can take on the world by himself, is at times just a pussy cat!

I knew as a little girl I wanted to marry someone as strong as my daddy. The Lord gave me the desires of my heart.

Funny thing, I also wanted three boys and a girl.

Day #27 - Love Encourages - Eric

Okay - this Dare hits way to close to home for me. How many times have you said this during your 40 day love Dare journey?

This Dare is perfect for me as I am told often that I set too high of expectations on others, including Jennifer. Since Jennifer is the one that tells me this I am sure she has waited for me to blog on this Dare before she does. She is checking me out to see if I am going to be truthful, confession is good for the soul - ya right -

See in our house this Dare does not really apply to Jennifer, at least in her relationship with me. She is one cool cat on this expectation thing for sure...

With out getting into the details today had a few of those expectations come up and I failed. I am sure all of you are glad to know I am far from perfect. This thing we call marriage is work, even for those in marriage ministry.

Tonight I will be talking with Jennifer about this so pray for me. She can be a tough one sometimes :-)...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day #26 - Love is Responsible - Eric

As we talked about this as a couple, the idea of keeping short accounts came up right away. When you are married this is real important. It is amazing how this simple concept of getting issues out and into the open can totally change your relationship.

The hard part for me is not saying anything back to Jennifer when I do not agree with the feedback I am receiving. It is hard to keep the big mouth closed...

Take this Dare and move forward with a new lease on your marriage.

Moving forward with the process, on to Day #27...

Day # 26 - Love is responsible - Jennifer

Admitting one's wrong and asking forgiveness isn't always easy especially if we are admitting it to our spouse.

This has come easier for me to do through the years because when Eric and I are in harmony it's such a sweet spot. I don't like it when there's discord between us, so it's easy for me to keep short accounts and be quick to ask forgiveness and grant forgiveness just to keep things sweet.

It's not always easy to see the parts of us that aren't pretty, that's when I ask the Lord to show me gently where I need to change and it's cool how He does. Do I change overnight? Not at all, it's always a process, but the rewards are amazing!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day # 25 - Love Forgives - Jennifer

Jesus forgave us so that we might forgive.... I believe this is probably one of the top reasons couples struggle in their relationship.

Many times my pride stands in the way of making things right with Eric. Not just saying sorry, but sorry for... and then admitting the wrongdoing; then going the extra mile by working hard on not doing it again!

But the concept of actually forgiving him for his wrong doing? Forgive when he doesn't ask for forgiveness? Forgive even if he doesn't deserve it? Forgive even when I'm mad and I don't want to?

If I can just get my head around the concept that Jesus forgave me even when I didn't ask for forgiveness, even when I didn't deserve it, I can better understand the unconditional love that God has for me and that I must have for Eric.

Day #25 - Love Forgives - Eric

This will be a short note today from me on forgiveness.

Forgiveness in a marriage is all anchored in the forgiveness Christ models for us. Is it easy? Not a chance. In fact it just might be one of the hardest things you have to do as a spouse.

One thing I have learned in the 18 years of being married to Jennifer is that it is hard not to forgive if your spouse forgives you. As a guy, asking for forgiveness can be a real challenge too.

Forgiveness is critical for a healthy marriage so take the first step!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day #24 - Love vs. Lust - Eric

This is a big one, not just for men, but for women too.

Just a couple days ago one of our ministry's board members came into my office and we talked about the temptation of pornography and all that goes with it. I know his story and his testimony of how the Lord changed his life. His story is so right on topic with this Dare!

He had to intentionally learn how to love his wife, truly love, and through that process of learning he was able to get victory over this cancer that would have taken his marriage down over time.

A couple good friends of mine always remind me to "guard my heart" whether I am with them in person or talking by phone. That is a good friend!

See God wired men a certain way and then gave us a choice and he wired women a certain way and gave them a choice. It is no surprise to any of you but I am far from perfect and I have made my mistakes in life.

I told my board member this week that I dealt with this issue years ago and decided to not go there even once. Before you get all excited and call me a liar, I did not say I achieved this goal but I set a very high standard.

So guys, if you do go there like all of us will, what do you do? When I say go there I mean any area of lust in your life, not specifically pornography. What do I do? Stop and right on the spot ask God for forgiveness and run the other direction. This is something you just have to do, because Satan wants to destroy you and this is an easy way to do it.

Over the years I have continued to build my strength in this area and the Lord has honored my heart, but it has been a process. I believe my commitment years ago to deal with this area proactively has paid off and given me a great marriage and a marriage of trust!

Sorry this was so long but this is a "big time" issue in so many relationships and our culture feeds the problem with everything they can throw at it (Media and Internet)...

Day # 24 - Love vs Lust - Jennifer

I am very blessed to have a husband that is very cautious with his eyes. I have never seen him look lustfully at another woman, I have never heard him talk about another woman's looks. Because of this, he has made me secure in our relationship and I am so grateful!

As a mother of three boys, I have a responsibility as to what is being viewed on TV or in magazines in our home. I remember when our oldest, Hudson, was into dirt bikes. He would want a dirt bike magazine and before I would let him have it I would go through and pull out all the inappropriately dressed girls.

You may think I'm crazy but I don't even let Dancing with the Stars into our home. Now our daughter, Erika, and I sometimes sneak into my bedroom and will watch it, but my boys nor, husband need to see half dressed women shaking their bodies.

I personally have a Victoria Secret account, but when their magazine comes in the mail, it is thrown in the dumpster before it can even enter our home.

Mothers and wives have an obligation to the men of their homes to protect them from these kinds of worldly influences. Pornography is rampant in our culture and I wonder how many seeds are planted first right at home.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day # 23 - Love Always Protects - Jennifer

Eric said it so well.... read below! It is amazing how when a couple really strives to become one how it changes the way you do life.

Let me give you an example. If any of you have twins then you know they are very unique. Our 12 year old twin boys, Elliot and Wesley, are always together. When one is reading, you'll find the other one reading right next to him. They watch t.v. together, play at the same time, go to the park together, go to bed at the same time, you get the picture.

They choose to do everything together. When one gets invited to a birthday party without the other they don't go. It really is an incredible thing to watch. They are truly each other's best friend. Do they argue? Oh yes, but they verbalize it to each other and then five min. later or sooner they are back playing or doing whatever together. And sometimes, there are punches!

This is such a great example (maybe a little extreme) of how a couple that desires to be one would look like. They love doing things together, if one has to run to the store, than the other wants to go along with.

How many of you have marriages similar to what I'm talking about? I find the more Eric and I process our lives as one, the more we become one. Can I go hang out with girlfriends? Of course! But do I want to? Not so much.

Day #23 - Love Always Protects - Eric

Over 8 years ago Jennifer and I decided to process and walk life together. Over time, this commitment has really changed the way I look at life.

Self always seems to be the battle ground that comes back to haunt me. The more we intentionally do life together all the other potential distractions seem to have less influence.

In the fast-paced culture that we live in, I feel like the packed schedules are the biggest factor in hindering the time it takes to build a better, and better relationship with Jennifer. This Dare did not challenge me much because of the years of work I (we) have put into doing life as a couple and not as individuals.

The application of doing life as a couple will look a little different to each of you but if you really want to take on this Dare you have to stop thinking of you and your spouse as two and focus on becoming ONE! In Process -

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day # 22- Love is Faithful - Jennifer

Have you, like me, ever told your children "make good choices"? Then why is it that we as adults have a hard time making right choices? Love is a choice, not just a feeling.

Eric and I were reminded tonight of young love. We were talking to a couple who has been married for just a few months. He was sharing about his wife's response to him after they were apart all week due to her work travels. Wow, to be that crazy for each other again.

Of course nothing is better than the deep love that's developed over the years but why can't we at least get some of that "crazy love", twinkle in the eye kind of love back in our relationship, what causes it to leave?

Loving Eric for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health is the choice I make now and forever, and I'm going to start learning to be a little crazy in love with him again too!

Day #22 - Love is Faithful - Eric

Choices, we all make them every day and these choices drive how we live life in general. When it comes to this thing called marriage, choice goes out the window once you say "I do". Marriage is a commitment for life and it needs to be approached this way.

If it was a feeling I think Jennifer would have a great case to simply not love me during those stressful moments and carry that right into the non-stressful moments/days/weeks/etc.

It is the model of Christ and His walk on earth that just nails this point big time. He never made His baseline for serving mankind about His feelings at the moment. He looked at everything through the eyes of eternity.

Even though we are in the flesh and are not perfect, we still can be very intentional in how we walk life and how we live life with the one we asked to marry us. Take up this challenge as the benefits to you and your spouse are big and yes, even the benefits to your children are very, very big!

As for me I am going to focus on being a better husband so Jennifer can make this choice, to love me, much easier.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day #21 - Love is Satisfied in God - Eric

John 4:10 - very cool

This is one of my all time favorite stories played out in the life of Christ. It just nails how most of us seek out things to satisfy us and forget that He is the answer. When you rest in Him, He really can take care of your life and, yes, your relationship with your spouse too.

From a practical standpoint I have watched this play out in my marriage and more. The Lord wants you to be you, and stop trying to "do" and focus on "being". Be the person God called you to be and He will carry the weight of the world for you.

Several times in my marriage I have seen some wild turns financially due to things I had no control over, really. This could have totally taken me out, but somehow I kept leaning on Him.

As a couple ,we decided to take God at His word and did two key things:

1. We continued to give financially to our church
2. We served in ministry every chance we got

Not easy, but it worked! He kept His promise and I tried to stay the course trusting in Him. As for Jennifer, she was my biggest cheerleader and that was invaluable in the process!

Day # 21- Love is Satisfied in God - Jennifer

I love this Dare! It is so true! Whenever I'm disappointed in my relationship with Eric or perturbed with him it's usually due to high expectations I put on him, and sometimes they're unrealistic expectations.

Over the years I've heard many good-willed counselors and public speakers tell men that they are to provide security for their wives. I whole-heartedly disagree! My security has to be in God Almighty and Him alone.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that this gets the man who is negligent with his funds or wife off the hook, that is a bigger issue. I am simply saying that if my dependency is on my Lord and Savior and I am not looking to my husband to fulfill those needs, than I can rest in the plan God has for us whatever that may look like.

I learned this a few years back, when we first moved to the Phoenix. Eric worked for three companies that went under which put us in a financial tail spin. If I would have put my financial security in Eric, I would have crushed his spirit. See, he doubted himself enough that he didn't need me to doubt him, too. He needed me to love him unconditionally, support, and encourage him. I couldn't have done that unless my security was in the Lord.

I challenge the women who are reading this to think about who your security is in? Your husband is just a man, and life takes some crazy turns, especially in these times. So give him some slack and understanding and most of all be his biggest fan, he needs you and the results will astound you!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day # 20 - Love is Jesus Christ

The Ultimate Sacrifice-
If I were to ask you what is the ultimate sacrifice you would make to get your spouse back in a healthy relationship with you, what would you say?
We all have to realize that God made the Ultimate Sacrifice when he gave his only Son to come to earth and die for our sins, just so He could have a healthy relationship with us! When we stop long enough to really think about that, it's mind boggling.
Dare #20 is the key to life! When my relationship is right with God, my relationship with Eric is rich. When I grow more in love with God, I grow more in love with Eric.
It really is that simple, period. Our self-centeredness and pride is what makes life messy. But it's never too late! Change will not always be instant like we enjoy having, but God has been waiting all along for our realization of full dependency on Him. And He's the one that will be there for us in every way and at every turn in the road of life.

Day #20 - Love is Jesus Christ - Eric

For God So Loved the World That...

The simple gospel in one verse that most of us memorized in church years ago is still the anchor of our faith and the picture of love indescribable.

If you are in a relationship and one of you have not received the free gift spoken about in John 3:16, stop everything you are doing and find someone that can talk about the unconditional Love found in a personal relationship with your Heavenly Father, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Understanding God's love for you is so important that literally the rest of your life depends on it. The God we are talking about makes it possible for you to love others, including your spouse even when they are not lovable.

Seek Him and you will find love like you have never known...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day # 19 - Love is Impossible - Jennifer

Eric and I have known each other since elementary school, grew up in the same schools and church all our lives. So when going into marriage, our beliefs and how we view different issues were very much alike. I believe this is why we've had such a good marriage through the years.

But a few years ago after hearing and seeing many couples struggling, we knew in our hearts we didn't ever want to get to that place in our relationship, so we started this quest of finding out what it would look like if we intentionally processed life together. It has been amazing!

No, we aren't perfect and there are many times in the heat of "the battle" that I must stop, walk away and ask the Lord to change my attitude. And it's crazy how He does.

I don't know how couples who do not have the Lord in the center of their lives personally and in their relationship as a couple live life. It's hard enough to conquer my issues walking with the Lord, I couldn't imagine doing it on my own.

Day #19 - Love Is Impossible - Eric

As I reflect on the Dares I must say that I feel real good about them. Though they have been challenging none of them have seemed impossible. This has very little to do with me, but a ton to do with Jennifer and how the Lord has blessed our relationship.

As I have been writing others on the Message Board so often I find myself thinking, how is this person's personal relationship with the Lord? Are they in touch with the One that truly loves beyond their understanding?

Our strength and ability to give grace is totally locked up in Him and if that is not your anchor than seek Him out and connect with Him today.

Staying the course and stay anchored!

Day # 18 - Love Seeks to Understand - Jennifer

This Dare was fun! Took a little work and ingenuity but the smile on Eric's face was well worth it. To tell you the truth, I wasn't sure I could pull this one off. It's much easier to leave the children and go off to dinner than to find a place for them to go off to so we can have the house to ourselves. But that's what made it special, doing something out of the ordinary which made it something meaningful.

So I went by the store on the way home, picked up a couple of steaks, a potato (to make a twice baked, his favorite), a two serving size of his favorite dessert, and sparkling cider. I had the candles on the table along with the China and crystal goblets we used for our wedding reception almost 18 years ago. I fed the kids and they were out the door headed to the neighbors by 5:3o and were instructed not to return home until 7:30.

Our children have seen the movie, Fireproof, so when Eric came walking in the door after work Elliot asked him if he was ready for an elegant dinner with his wife. Later, when the kids came back from the neighbors, Wesley asked Eric if he had studied. I didn't get it at first but Eric was all over it sharing what he learned about me during dinner. Too cute.

Day #18 - Love Seeks to Understand - Eric

I got totally surprised on this Dare. While I was trying to figure out how to just get 15-20 minutes at Starbucks with Jennifer, she was planning a dinner.

I am not sure if the children knew everything but they sure knew mom had a special dinner planned for Dad! So I get home, and Jennifer is dressed to kill (that's a good thing - hot thing) and one of my favorite dinners is on the menu.

The children all left to different neighbor's homes, so we had the house to ourselves, with four children that does not happen very often.

Dinner was great by candle light and talking about each others dreams and goals made the evening special.

I am not sure what degree I have earned on "knowing" Jennifer but we are sure on the same page on many key issues in our lives together.

This Dare is one that you must act upon once you have an evening like we had. The next step for me is asking more questions over time and getting more moments like this one where we can just relax and talk...

This is a process and I am learning more every day - Peace!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day #17 - Love Promotes Intimacy - Eric

A safe environment is the key to this Dare. It is the only way your spouse will ever be totally real with you. At times in my marriage I am not sure I have done a very good job of fostering a save place for Jennifer to share.

Sometimes I am just out there with my own stressful issues and that creates an unsafe table to sit at with me. When you think of the table that Christ prepared during His walk on earth I really feel like a jerk. Is that a deep theological statement or what? Yep!

No matter what He was faced with, He modeled this for us so well in His everyday walk. This Dare takes tons of intentionally for me, tons. I am going to really have to work on this Dare as Jennifer deserves this safe place, and it needs to be me who provides it for her.

Open sharing - A safe place - A trusted marriage

If you are not familiar with the ministry of TrueFaced (Bill Thrall, Bruce McNichol, John Lynch), you need to check them out - great stuff on this topic...

Day # 17- Love Promotes Intimacy- Jennifer

Creating a safe environment of trust! How do you do that? Let me hear from you on this one. We can all learn from each other.

Growing up as a Preacher's kid I was able to learn a few things:
  • Never be manipulative when praying with your spouse
  • Never share negative things about your spouse to others
  • Never be critical of your spouse in a sarcastic way to be funny in front of others

I learned these valuable lessons the easy way, by observing other couples way before I could even date. By watching them at church, by hearing what the ladies shared during the women's bible studies I lead as a young adult, by going to the church functions and hearing the men criticize their wife in front of her and a group of others just to get a big laugh.

I learned early on that I didn't want that for my marriage and I believe it has saved Eric and I from a lot of emotional hurt through the years.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day # 16 - Love Intercedes - Jennifer

Why is praying with our spouse sometimes the hardest thing to do? Is it because it's the most vulnerable thing we can do with our mate? Is it because Satan knows that by a couple praying together it will create spiritual intimacy and that would be the worst thing for keeping couples apart.

I believe the answer is yes and yes! Eric and I are the healthiest in our relationship when we have physical and spiritual intimacy. Sometimes, Eric will just put his hand on my shoulder when we crawl in bed at night and pray, other times things are heavy on my heart and I'll ask him to pray with me. And at other times, I will just pray. Sometimes we crawl in bed and forget to pray altogether, and for us, that's OK long as weeks do not go by that we aren't praying together.

If you aren't there yet in your relationship with your spouse or they are unwilling to, don't fret! At night just put your hand over on him/her and say a silent prayer, they don't even have to know. You'll be amazed at the things that will happen for the good when you do that.

This dare was a great reminder to me that I need to pray for Eric's heart when things are good along with the rocky times.

Day #16 - Love Intercedes - Eric

Okay, this Dare is getting a little personal.

For this Dare to impact me, I must step away from the focus on self and really enter into Jennifer's world. Looking to her needs and how the Lord is working in her life, and taking a picture of our marriage and focusing on us, not me.

As the years have gone by I have found myself praying in different ways for Jennifer, and for us. Do not put this thing we call prayer in a box. Pray as the Lord leads you, the key is only that you are intentionally praying with and for your spouse, and your marriage.

Dare #17 is in process today and I am not sure if I am having fun yet! Stay the course and let us know how you are doing on your journey...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day #15 - Love is Honorable - Jennifer

The Love Dare has been such a great process for us as a couple to go through. I love this book! Each day is quick to read and the Dare's are easy enough to do in a short amount of time; but the impact is huge.

It's amazing what happens when your mate is on the forefront of your mind every day. By default you treat each other better, you feel good and fulfilled in your marriage.

If your spouse is doing The Love Dare on you, make sure you let them know how much you appreciate what they're doing. This is not the time for pride, accept the change in your spouse even if it's small changes and you think their heart is not in it yet. If they are doing it, it means they want things to change for the better between the two of you.

It really is a wonderful process to go through.

Day #15 - Love is Honorable - Eric

As I continue this walk through the Dares I am finding it easier and easier to play them out in a very natural way. Often we talk about honoring a process and the results will be worth it. Honoring your wife is a process, too, and yes it is more than worth it!

As you practice these Dares, do not let them come and go with the one day, but carry each one of them into the next day. They are building blocks of a successful relationship with your spouse.

This Dare (#15) was more of natural outcome of the past 14 Dares that have come before it. See - this book gives you a practical structure to do something you already know you should be doing.

May the Lord give you the energy to do all He has called you to do this day - Cheers!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day #14 - Love Takes Delight - Eric & Jennifer

This Dare jumped right in our laps last evening when all 4 of our children had activities at church. So how much trouble could Jennifer and I get into in around 2 hours?

Normally, I would head home from the office and Jennifer would have managed the travel to church with the kiddos and I would do the pick up run. Last night we decided to meet at the church.

As we headed off to dinner the traffic was totally backed up so we stopped at one of our old favorite restaurants. We almost had the place to ourselves, the music was perfect, the lights were down low and NO kids! Some of you just might know how seldom that can happen if you are not very intentional about a date night.

We had an unplanned date night and it was great. Jennifer always enjoys her dining out and it was a nice surprise for me, too.

Me, I would have been fine just going home, but we did something I knew Jennifer would truly enjoy. As I keep saying, it is those little things that really seem to make a difference.

Staying the Course - Peace.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day #13 - Love Fights Fair- Eric & Jennifer

We decided to blog this one together since our Dare was to be done together. We enjoyed this dare because it made us realize that through the years we have come a long way in actually learning how to fight fair.

We talked through it and wrote down four things that help us to fight fair.
  1. Short accounts: This means we don't let the fight continue on and on. We put an end to it and if we can't do that, then we agree to have different opinions and move on.
  2. Don't bring up past issues - We did this for many years and really just in the past two years have we intentionally stopped doing it. It makes us go around and around and it's harder to keep the short accounts.
  3. We Back Off of each other. For two lion personalities this was a must for us. In the heat of the fight, one of us will just stop it! You certainly can't fight by yourself, it does take two.
  4. A healthy balance in front of the kids! Our four children know we disagree about issues and sometimes it's about them. But they know that dad rules. If mom says it's OK and dad says it's not - Dad wins.

We don't believe that our children should never see us argue. Healthy debating is a good thing. But there has to be a balance. Shortly after a disagreement our kids see us hugging or holding hands or having a normal conversation. They don't see doors slamming or cars squealing out of the drive way.

Someday our children will grow up and have a spouse of their own (we hope and pray) and they need to know what a healthy fight looks like. If they never see us fight they won't know what that looks like and could have a distorted view or think "Christian couples" never fight.

We have committed to our four children that we will never get a divorce - it's not an option and if we ever did, we will not only be breaking a commitment to each other but to each of them and to God. They totally understand that and even remind us of it once in a while and we constantly reassure them.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day #12 - Love Lets The Other Win - Eric

Okay - So how do you do this with two highly competitive people living together (married)?

This Dare could have been a mess for Jennifer and me as we are both "lions", not real passive nor introverted, ya might say. But we did not have a run in so we had no chance to take the Dare in a practical way.

If you read Jennifer's blog on this she talks about something that happened at our house involving our son Elliot. The whole idea behind what I asked him to do was to get him thinking about always being a gentlemen and taking care of his mother and someday his girlfriend or wife, even if she did not think she needed it.

We had a nice chat about this last night after Jennifer wrote her blog message.

As for Dare #12 I will report back in as I have a chance to live it out in a real practical way.


Day #12 - Love Lets the Other Win - Jennifer

Today one of our 11 year-old twins asked me what day of the Love Dare we were on. I told him and he asked what the Dare for the day was. When I told him that it was letting daddy win a fight today he said without even a hesitation, "That should've been yesterdays!" Wesley was correct, yesterday would have been better since today we didn't have time to fight!

So I'll be vulnerable and tell you what happened yesterday. It was the battle of the wills. I was getting ready to carry my laptop and a box of papers down the stairs when Eric saw me and told Elliot (our other twin) to carry the box for me. Of course the box was light and I've been doing a little lifting lately so I was sure there was no reason whatsoever that I would need such help. So I told Elliot that I had it and I started on down the stairs.

Eric, on the other hand, didn't care if I had it or not; Elliot had disobeyed his order to help his mother down the stairs! By this time I was already at the kitchen table with both things. Eric then loudly told Elliot to go downstairs, get the box from the table, take it up the stairs and back down.

Well, I thought that was the most ridiculous thing in the world. Eric was making such a big deal out of something I said I could handle, and I was just about to go upstairs and let him know what I was thinking when I stopped myself and thought for a moment.

What was the reason for Eric's "order" to Elliot? Was it because he thought I was weak and couldn't handle two things at once while walking down the stairs or was it something more than that? Could it be that Eric was teaching our 11-year old son how to take care of a lady? How to be a gentleman?

This morning I had to apologize to Elliot for getting him in trouble with his dad and explain to him that a lady should always accept help from a gentleman.

So the moral of the story is: If only I would stop more often and look at situations through my husband's eyes we probably wouldn't have as many fights or at least they wouldn't be so heated!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day # 11 - Love Cherishes - Jennifer

I had to really think about the distinction between Day 10 dare and this one. Both were about serving, but after reading them both again I realized that Day 10 was more about serving his preferences. Something he wouldn't expect normally. This time, it's much deeper, meeting his true needs.

After 17 years of marriage that one stumped me. Maybe because Eric's so independent and really takes care of himself and expects nothing from me. So for the first time in starting this whole 40 day love dare, I had to ask him what need I could meet for him.

It wasn't that hard, just a little work he needed done that I could do for him. The nice part about the last few days is not the things we've gotten from each other, but more the thought that we've put into each other and isn't that what matters most?

Day #11 - Love Cherishes - Eric

Guys: "When you look at your mate, you're looking at a part of you. So treat her well. Speak highly of him (her). Nourish and cherish the love of your life." The Love Dare, page 53.

The words nourish and cherish are very interesting. How many of us have been taught how to live these two words out in and through our relationship with our spouse. I sure never was.

This Dare is the real deal and rocked my thinking and I have a great marriage. After the last couple days of Dares the idea of marriage being 100% giving is becoming real clear to me.

If you have not started the Dare, take the challenge today and experience it!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day #10 - Love Is Unconditional - Eric

It is late on the day of this Dare and I must say I enjoyed serving Jennifer. If you know her you know that she does not ask for much so serving her is fun.

I got up and washed her front window on her car. See, in Arizona cars only get dusty and front windows get bug guts on them. When she left to workout this morning she had one clean front window.

Next she wanted some boxes organized in the garage - oh joy! Not my idea of fun but since I am trying to be intentional, I dug in and did some rearranging.

I know the Dares will get much harder for me but the last two days I truly enjoyed. Through this process I can see the Lord reminding me that I need to be more like I was when I was dating Jennifer and when we were first married. A good lesson for all of us that have lost that edge, we need to get it back! What do you think?

Day #9 -Love Makes Good Impressions and Day #10 Love is Unconditional - Jennifer

I put both of these together since tonight I have finished both Dare 9 and 10.

During our wedding nearly 17 years ago, my girlfriend Kelly sang a beautiful song called "Make me a Servant." It was a sincere prayer of our hearts that we would serve each other every day for the rest of our lives.

Then, life happened. Mainly - four kiddos in four years (which includes a set of twins)! For the next five years, I was literally in survival mode. I couldn't even think about serving Eric or giving a thought to his needs. Wow, looking back on those days, he was such a trooper. He'd go grocery shopping for me, did laundry daily, and anything and everything else that came up. Plus, working full time and commuting back and forth from Indy to Phoenix. I never heard a complaint come from his mouth, he was amazing!

Once again the Love Dare has challenged and convicted me that there are no more excuses to not just love unconditionally and totally serve him with all my heart.

Yes, he beat me to the dare on both of these, and it was wonderful to be on the receiving end and made me even want to reciprocate that much more.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day #9 - Loves Makes Good Impressions - Eric

This was my day to shine! (Friday)

I got up early and took Jennifer's car to the gas station and put gas in it. This is something I always used to do for her but lately I have not.

I Peter 5:14 - Greet one another with a kiss of love... I like that idea!

So when I go home Jennifer was on the floor in our room getting her muscles warmed up so she could go workout, yes - workout...

You guessed it - I got down on the floor and gave her a good morning kiss and told her that I loved her. The great thing about this was she had not read the day's Dare yet so she had no idea that I was practicing the Dare. I enjoyed it, I hope she did too.

Later on Friday Jennifer put one and one together and realized why I had that boyish grin on my face that morning when I kissed her.

Lesson learned Guys - If you are doing the Dare as a couple get up early and get a jump start on the Dare! Peace -

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day # 8 - Love is not Jealous - Jennifer

Ever since I realized years ago that Eric's love language is words of affirmation, I've enjoyed being open with words of praise and appreciation to him. However, this Dare made me realize I can never compliment and "Cheer" for my man enough!

The other part of this dare was more difficult. The "list" of negatives, let's face it, I may need this some day to prove my point when we're arguing over something important! Isn't that what we wives are good at? Bringing up the past "sins" and beating them over our husband's heads at just the right opportunity?

Putting the list in the paper shredder was the easy part, what I had to do was ask the Lord to shred the negatives from my mind never to be used against him again, and when and if I do to remind me quickly so I don't destroy my husband's spirit.

Believe me, the fights between Eric and I will come. Our personalities are both lions which means we're both argumentative! But fighting fair and not stepping over that line into disrespect is what's most important and that is what I must not forget.

Day #8 - Love Is Not Jealous - Eric

Over the 18 years of our marriage, I have watched Jennifer live this Dare out right in front of my eyes. No kidding, she has been my biggest cheerleader by far. I have always said one encouraging word from her and I can do life for a week. That is just how I am wired and since she knows this she intentionally cheers me on.

Now me, that is another story. I have to say that this was and is a good challenge for me. Since it is not Jennifer's "love language" I do not think about it and after reading this Dare, I think I should.

As for the lighting (fire) of the negative page - NOT. In Arizona burning anything is taking the chance of starting a desert fire or setting off a high tech smoke alarm. So I am still trying to figure out how to destroy the evidence before my wife finds it.

I am going to work on being Jennifer's main cheerleader in life and that started yesterday. Intentionality once again is the key and asking the Lord to keep it in your mind and heart!


Day #7 - Love believes the Best - Eric

Making your list(s) and checking them twice! By the way, for some reason it is taking me reading each Dare twice to really get the hang of what is going on. Some of Jennifer's girlfriends may just say I am "slow" but I am really trying to personalize each Dare.

Back to the Dare at hand. Last night we sat up in bed and each took two sheets of paper out and started to make our list. Of course Jennifer is flying though her list and has to ask me "how are you doing?". I was plowing through the list of Positives just fine and hit 10-12 items. I enjoyed stopping and reflecting on the girl I married.

Negatives - This was twice as hard for me, if not more. But, I did get some things written down. As I said a couple days ago, I truly married up! Of course, Jennifer had a list made for me real fast.

Another great Dare to take and work through. If you have not jumped in and taken the Dare - go for it!