The Overflow! where souls are filled and faith is spilled

Tag Archives: marriage

When You Wish Your Marriage Were Extraordinary

Welcome! I’m glad you’re here.  Whether you’re an old friend or a new one, I hope you’ll pull up a chair and stay a while. 

If you like what you find, please sign up on the sidebar to receive my blog in your inbox now and then. Or find me on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll keep chasing Jesus together day by day.

Better yet, I’d love to connect with you in person. I’m scheduling speaking commitments for the remainder of 2016 and the beginning of 2017.  I’d  be delighted to join you at a special ministry event this year.

Over at Encouragement for Today, I’m sharing why gravel may be the secret to extraordinary love. I hope you’ll hop over to P31’s website and be encouraged. 

But before you go, keep reading to learn how a houseplant and a little girl taught me one of the best kept marriage secrets (Oh, and don’t forget to sign up for today’s give-away at the end of this post!)


I was standing with my seven-year-old in the middle of our small town discount store while she tried to pick out a potted plant to place by the window in her room. She’d been asking for weeks if she could please have something of her own to grow. And I’d promised that we’d find something beautiful.

I’d pictured going to a local greenhouse when the snow gave way to spring and helping my girl pick out her very own bright blossoms of splendor. But on that bleak winter’s day, as we raced through the store for diapers and toilet paper, bacon and bath soap, Hannah had been drawn to the display of straggly houseplants at the end of the toothpaste aisle.

And even though I was in a hurry, something deep inside had told me to slow my cart and pause. My daughter flashed me a grateful smile and studied each plant. She poked her fingers in the humble soil and stroked each silky bloom. And, finally, she reached for the pot with the humble green and ivory leaves.

“Don’t you want one that has flowers?” I asked, pointing to the dainty pink flowers shaped like delicate teardrops.IMG_7135

“Or something more unusual?” I suggested as I wiggled the pot holding a cactus. “You could pretend you lived in a desert if you put this thing in your room.”

My daughter giggled but refused my offer. Instead, she wrapped her slender fingers around that plain little houseplant with the green and ivory leaves and flashed me a satisfied smile. “No thanks,” she replied. “I want this one.”

I shrugged my shoulders and turned my cart toward the cash register. Hannah followed and we parked ourselves at the end of a snaking line, then began to unload the contents of our overflowing cart. The cashier cast us a harried smile, and my daughter reached to the bottom of the cart and grabbed the crimson coffee cup tucked beneath the bulky package of toilet paper.

“Don’t forget this,” she reminded me.

The mug was a birthday gift for a friend, but the sight of that shiny porcelain stirred a memory from long ago…


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How To Anchor A Worn and Wobbling Soul

Our coffee mugs sit empty, but we still cup them in our hands as if the warm porcelain between our fingers could somehow anchor our wobbling souls.

The clock pushes hard toward the end of the school day, and we know that we’ll soon part ways to collect kids and drive carpool, to sit at soccer games and oversee piano practice.

But for now, we linger in the back of the coffee shop, two women sharing the mess of life over a table dotted with crumbs.

My head hurts and my throat swells with an unsolicited lump of tears.

And I can’t think of anything to say.IMG_6511


Words feel like a mere Bandaid for the open wound my friend has revealed.

Her marriage is flailing and her hope is, too.

I watch the drizzles of despair roll down her cheeks and into that empty coffee cup, and my stomach churns with empathy.

I know of chasms that grow wide over time and embers of love that grow dim.

I know the kind of pain that makes tears pool and hope wither, the ache of apathy that throbs loud at night and the pangs of disappointment that hover somewhere just beneath the heart in the waking hours.

And more than anything, I want to fix those lifeless eyes.

But there are no words for a quick fix, no instant solutions for rebuilding the shards of a shattered marriage.

And the only thing I know to do is the only thing that has saved my marriage dozens of times from landing in the give-up-and-walk-away-grave.

So, I reach across the table and tangle my fingers with hers.

“Could we just pray before we go?”

She sighs and pulls her hand from my grasp, drops her gaze and fiddles with the humble diamond ring on her finger.

When she finally answers my question, she chokes on her own words, her voice cracking with doubt. “Do you really think prayer will change anything?”


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Why Every Marriage Needs a Good Fighter

Welcome! I’m glad you’re here.

Whether you’re an old friend or a new one, I pray that you’ll be blessed as you linger in this place where faith is spilled and souls are filled.

If you like what you find, I hope you’ll stop by often or find me on Facebook or Twitter.  Better yet, I’d love to connect with you in person. I’m scheduling speaking commitments for 2016 and I would be delighted to join you at a special ministry event this year.

Over at Encouragement for Today , I’m sharing about how God used a wise widow to turn this floundering wife into a warrior!

I hope you’ll hop over to P31’s website and be encouraged. But before you go, keep reading and don’t forget to sign up for my give-away at the end of this post.


  They spent the lazy days of summer building a secret kingdom in the woods.

They chopped and hauled, created and imagined, and together they designed a refuge where their stories came to life beneath a canopy of emerald green.

They were were pioneers and explorers, artisans and travelers, and their extraordinary tales stretched across the canvas of an ordinary July.


Sometimes when the melody of their laughter seeped through the open windows as I washed the dinner dishes, I found myself wishing I could  lasso time with those old frayed ropes that hung like dingy curtains from the gnarled branches beyond the trees. And, now and then, when the sky birthed the orange of sunset and the dish water morphed from blue to brown, I’d grab my shoes and follow that path into the woods where whimsy reigned queen and imagination ran free…

“Let’s pretend that these stones are really diamonds…”

“And these big boards are super strong walls for our house…”

“And let’s say that that big branch is our watch tower.”

“Yeah! We’ll take turns sitting up there and looking for bad guys…”

“‘Cause we have to work together to protect our treasure…”IMG_5596


And so it went–creating and playing, dreaming and defending– until one fitful August day when those siblings who had worked together to build a dominion of delight decided to stage an epic battle between the trees.

They whittled slender swords from lifeless sticks and carved bulging bows from fallen branches.

They sculpted arrows and shaped shields, gathered pine cone grenades and collected acorn bullets.

They divided alliances and formed teams; devised combat plans and scripted strategies.

All except for one.


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Because Life is Made to Be Savored

Hi, friends. I’m so glad you’re here.

I know there are many places you could be today, and I’m thankful you’ve chosen to spend a few minutes with me. Whether you’re an old friend or a new one, I pray that you’ll be blessed as you linger in this place where faith is spilled and souls are filled

Over at Encouragement for Today, I’m sharing a candid tale about a caterpillar, a preschooler, and a mom who has no margin for miracles. If you haven’t read it, I hope you’ll jump check it out and be inspired, but before you go…


I hope you’ll take a moment to look around a bit.  If you like what you find here, don’t hesitate to sign up on the sidebar for your free subscription to The Overflow so you won’t miss a single post. Or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter so we can get to know each other better.  And speaking of getting to know you, I’d love to meet you face to face this year. I’m  scheduling speaking engagements for the 2015-2016 school year. I’d be delighted to meet you at your next ministry event!


     The first wedding gift we opened after returning from our island honeymoon was a small shiny package the size of a simple shoe box. I’d shaken it carefully, my eyes fixed on my handsome husband, and we’d guessed what might be tucked beneath the silver folds.

Hand towels monogrammed with a fancy B? 

A shiny new set of silverware? A casserole dish? A frame?

The possibilities were endless, so I’d finally just  ripped off the shimmering gift wrap and lifted the rectangular lid.

And there, beneath a wad of crunchy white tissue paper, we spied a splash of brilliant color.

This was no casserole dish; it was a hammock built for two.


I lifted those rainbow ropes out of the shoe box and let the hammock dangle to the ground.

My sister had chosen a gift that captured her dream for the life my groom and I would share.

And on a tiny square of parchment paper, my only sibling had written this wish in bubbly scrawl…

Here’s to many years of swaying to the rhythm of love.

My man had cast me a giddy grin, and I’d returned it with a wink.

Then, as I’d carefully folded up our new hammock, I’d entertained visions of how we’d use it in the years to come…

I’d pictured the two of us cocooned between those colorful ropes on lazy Sunday afternoons.

I’d imagined a relaxed-me dangling between two trees with my favorite book on a sultry summer’s eve.

And before I’d slipped the lid on that ordinary shoe box, I’d envisioned a someday-me swaying with a tiny baby beneath a bright blue sky.

My sister’s wedding gift stirred an expectancy in my soul.

It made me hungry for a life we could sip slowly and savor gratefully.


But what I didn’t realize at the tender age of twenty-one is that time has a way of rushing fast and furious, and life often unfolds in choking waves rather than dreamy drops.  And if we’re not careful, rainbow hammocks and starry-eyed dreams can get swept up in the ever-churning current of the daily grind.

We moved into our first little apartment warmed by the embers of newlywed love, and we unpacked the casserole dishes and the country blue placemats, the second-hand sofa and the shiny new silverware. We hung  cross-stitch plaques on the walls and monogrammed bath towels on the hook on the bathroom door. But there were no trees for hanging hammocks on the courtyard green. So we left our favorite wedding gift in the box and dreamed of the day we’d sway and snuggle to the rhythm of love.

That little box is where the hammock stayed while we finished our college degrees and secured our first jobs, while we wandered the Alps and taught students in a little yellow school house. It’s where those colorful cords lingered while we laughed and cried and learned how to pray boldly and how to fight fair.

Those rainbow strings sat shrouded in storage-room darkness while we stumbled through graduate school and paced the hallway with colicky babies; while we manned mortgages and made grocery lists; changed diapers and tried to figure out how to pay the bills.

My sister’s wish sat silent while we tamed toddler tantrums and played with preschoolers, while we learned how to  build a family and how to tear down walls of pride; how to shepherd our children’s hearts and how to keep our marriage from toppling over like a Lego tower in the madness of it all.

For fourteen years that special wedding gift stayed tucked out of sight, until one sunny spring day, when we moved four kids, one dog, and hundreds of boxes to a house on a hill with a yard of green and a sweet splattering of leafy trees.

And as I unpacked baby socks and board games, casserole dishes and serving spoons, I discovered a simple shoebox with an old wedding wish inside….

I laughed like a young bride as I unfolded those rainbow ropes for a second time, and the kids clapped and squealed when my husband strung that hammock in our backyard between a sturdy tree trunk and the wooden post of our small deck.

And for a moment, that old gift that felt brand new.


But life kept rushing on, and I never once crawled into that hammock to savor the shifting seasons, never snuggled with my groom in the rainbow folds or cuddled my growing baby in the cocoon of quiet.

There was always laundry to fold or toenails to clip, groceries to get or carpools to run.

And by the time summer came again, all that was left of our beautiful hammock was a jumble of frayed ropes and tangle of tattered strings, a scar on the tree trunk and a rusty hook on the side of the deck.


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The Prayer that Changed My Marriage

Hi, friends. I’m so glad you’re here.

If you’re stopping by from Proverbs 31, WELCOME! 

I know there are many places you could be today, and I’m thankful you’ve chosen to spend a few minutes with me. Whether you’re an old friend or a new one, I pray that you’ll be blessed as you linger in this place where faith is spilled and souls are filled.

d8.13 If you like what you find, feel free to subscribe to The Overflow so you won’t miss a single post, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter. I’d love to get to know you more. I’m also scheduling speaking engagements for the 2015-2016 school year. I’d love to meet you face to face at one of your favorite ministry events in the year to come. Feel free to contact me at if you’d like to explore that possibility.

Tomorrow I’ll celebrate twenty-two years of marriage to that cute boy who sat behind me in the fifth grade! And in honor of my anniversary, I’m over at “Encouragement for Today” sharing the best marriage advice I ever received.  If you haven’t read it, be sure to check it out here. But before you go, may I tell you about the simple prayer that changed my marriage and altered my heart?  Maybe it will encourage you, too! *******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

I was putting away laundry in the walk-in closet when four-year-old Lizzy meandered into my bedroom to find me.

She poked her curly-haired head through the open closet door and jumped over the laundry basket to wrap her slender hands around my knees.

I hugged her and invited her to help me stack her daddy’s t-shirts on the shelf, but she took three steps back and assured me she was just leaving. 
IMG_1637However, just as she began to take three giant steps backwards, her eyes landed on a long white box stashed on the top shelf above my hanging clothes.

Intrigued by the sight of the unmarked box, Lizzy stopped in her tracks and craned her neck to get a better look.  “Mommy, what’s in that box?” she asked.  “Is it a present?”

“No,” I replied as I emptied the laundry basket, “That’s my wedding dress.”

“Your wedding dress?” Lizzy repeated incredulously. “I didn’t know you used to be a bride!”

I glanced at the spit-up-stained t-shirt and stretched-out sweatpants I was wearing and tried to decide whether I should laugh or cry. “Honey, I still am a bride,” I replied with a subtle smile.

Lizzy took one last curious look at me; then shrugged her shoulders and skipped out of the closet.  As she disappeared down the hallway, I heard my confounded girl mumble under her breath. “I thought brides were fancy…”

I flipped over the empty laundry basket and sat down on my makeshift stool. Weary tears brimmed in my eyes, and I was surprised by the rush of emotions stirred by my daughter’s innocent comment. My daughter’s words unearthed a strange kind of grief deep inside of me.

I didn’t look quite as fancy as the star-struck girl who had stood at her husband’s side on a sultry Saturday in August and pledged to love him for a lifetime. But more devastating than that was the fact that I no longer felt like a beautiful bride, either.

Or maybe, more accurately,  I felt like a used-to-be-bride. 


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