Cultivating Intimacy in Your Marriage

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Oh, how God loves to stretch me through this blog.  This is a hard post for me to share.  I've been writing this for days, pouring over it hours at a time. I've been back and forth with it. It's hard and uncomfortable, but God has called me to share.

For weeks I had stewed over this issue. You have no idea how many conversations I had with myself about it. Oh, how I longed for someone to talk to about it. When I knew one of my girlfriends was coming over for coffee, I spent some time praying for God to give me the strength to talk to her about it.

I had spent so much time thinking we were the only ones with this issue, it never occurred to me it might be a common issue in other marriages. I was so thankful God gave me the words to say to her! Once the words left my lips, I suddenly felt braver. She assured me we aren't the only ones to struggle.

The issue...intimacy.

As we enter into marriage, we have these pre-conceived notions of how intimacy will look. Then life happens. You're sleep deprived, the bills seem never ending, the house needs cleaned, dishes need done and does. the. laundry. never. end.? Add to that a husband that works second shift and you see each other just a few hours a day. If we don't intentionally cultivate intimacy, of course it's easy for it to get lost along the way.

I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.
Song of Solomon 6:3

Oh, how I love that verse. I love it enough that I have it tattooed on my back. It just speaks volumes to me of love, belonging and intimacy.  Intimacy is such a vital part of marriage.  Through intimacy, a couple creates a strong connection and deep bond.  One that far exceeds any other relationship you could have.

We need to be purposeful about cultivating intimacy and passion in our marriage. There are many different ways a husband and wife can do this. It takes time, energy and effort, but if you are intentional about it, your marriage will benefit and grow.

How can you keep intimacy alive? You have to desire it. You have to want it. You have to be deliberate about it. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes to reach the goal. You have to engage your heart fully in the joyful pursuit.

A while back, I read an amazing book. It was Intimacy Ignited by Dr. Joseph and Linda Dillow and Dr. Peter and Lorraine Pintus. I would highly recommend this book to every. single. couple. It is a verse by verse exploration of the Song of Solomon, one of the most loving, romantic and poetic Books found in the Old Testament of the Bible! If God ever gave us an instruction manual for intimacy in marriage, Song of Solomon is it! God wants married couples to have a love so hot, so passionate, so intense that nothing will be able to extinguish it.

Many people associate the word intimacy with sex. Although sex is an intimate act a husband and wife can enjoy together, there are other ways to cultivate intimacy as well. Sexual intimacy is very important, but so are these other intimate acts.

4 Ways To Cultivate Intimacy In Your Marriage:

1. Pursue your spouse.

Now, this one is a bit tricky. Men and women are so different. I know, right, Can I get an Amen? Pursuit, to most men, means feeling desired (ladies, read that as "sex") and affirmed through respect, honor and appreciation. Most women, on the other hand, are more likely to want to be pursued through time, attention and tenderheartedness (guys, read that as "romance"). 
  • Write your spouse a love letter. Write it in a way that would say "I love you" to them (which means it might not necessary be the kind you would want to receive). Explain to your spouse that you want to work on pursuing passion in your marriage. 
  • Initiate a sexual encounter in a creative way, especially if your spouse always initiates.
  • Read the Song of Solomon out loud together each night before bed.
  • Plan a date that revolves around something your spouse enjoys.

2. Have fun.

When was the last time you did something with the purposeful intention of just having fun together? One of my fav things my husband and I have in common is a love for laughter. Actually, his ability to make me laugh was one of the reasons I fell head over heals for him.
  • Plan a spontaneous adventure and surprise your spouse with it. This could be a night away (minus kids) or even a little mini-date. 
  • See a funny movie together, or take in a comedy show.
  • Let your hair down and get silly: have a pillow fight or a tickle war.

3. Be positive.

Remember the reasons you fell in love with your spouse? It's super easy to focus on what annoys us about our spouse, but that is definitely a passion killer. Passion can't co-exist with negativity. So, develop a habit of being grateful and appreciative. Guard your heart against taking the good parts of your marriage for granted.
  • Say thank you. Plain and simple. Thank them for big and little things. Thank them for doing dishes, laundry or fixing your car. I even thank my husband for just loving me (because I am fully aware there are days that can't be easy). 
  • Sit down together and make a list of the top five body parts you love (and think are super hot) about your spouse. (guys...your wife is likely in a body-image battle, even if you think she shouldn't be. this will mean the absolute world to her)

4. Pray Together

I have to admit, when we bow our heads to pray Sunday mornings, I can't wait to slip my hand into my husbands. There is just something so amazingly intimate about praying together! I totally understand that not everyone is comfortable praying out loud {read this as ME} but it's so worth it. Just gather up the courage and pray with your man!
  • As soon as you lay down in bed, and the lights are out, hold hands and take turns praying. 
  • If you are too intimidated, start out with baby steps and start praying out loud before meals.

May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
Proverbs 5:18-19

These are just a few ways to cultivate intimacy in marriage. If you and your husband have a special way of creating intimacy in marriage, I'd love to hear it! Please share in the comments below to encourage other wives!


{Semi} Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, January 21, 2015




Count Your Blessings Y'all

Friday, January 16, 2015


A few little things making me over the moon happy today and making me feel like a mighty blessed girlie.

- Friday!
- a marriage that still takes my breath away
- a night of loud music with all my fav kids
- a weekend with no big plans at all
- amazing friends
- fleece lined leggings...amazing!
- meeting goals
- taking the high road
- a visit planned with someone I've missed
- this little bloggie

{Semi} Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, January 14, 2015




The Day The Numbers Started To Matter

Friday, January 09, 2015

As I'm going on my journey, I'm going to be reposting some of my past posts...not only for you to read but because this girl needs to read them as well.  So many things I need reminded of on a daily basis!  This is one of my favorites...


I was the girl in high school who wore a size 12 but had curves...curves that I hated. Those curves really caused me quite a few problems. I was made fun of for basically any small flaw they could find...lips, booty, etc. I spent my entire teen years wishing I was thinner. Oh, the years I wasted not appreciating what I had.

I remember one day in particular like it was yesterday. It was one of those spring days that make your soul happy...birds chirping, sun shining bright and the flowers were in bloom. And I was having a "thin day". We all know what those are, right? My hair was amazing, my outfit was cute and I was feeling good. Yes! It was basically one of the only days I ever felt comfortable enough to wear shorts to school. I walked to the bus, smiling the entire time. Today was going to be a good day. I got on the bus and sat in the seat with my friend. She looked at me and immediately asked a question. How much do you weigh? Oh boy, I've never been directly asked that before. But she was my friend, someone I trusted, so I told her. She was horrified by my answer, immediately saying she MUST go on a diet because she nearly weighs what I do. And THAT is not possible.

And in that moment, the numbers started to matter.

From that moment on, I've hidden that number deep in my heart. The only people that know it is God, myself and my doctor {who I've sworn to ultimate secrecy}. I could tell you story after story of people piercing my heart with their careless words about my weight...relatives, boyfriends and even strangers.

I am one of those girls that likes to pretend that words don't hurt my feelings. I like to pretend I can just brush them off, smile and go on about my day. I take the hurtful words, cram them deep down inside and save them for another day. A day that I’m by myself and can pull those words back out and stress over them all by myself. Hurt doesn't have a time limit. Words that were spoken 20 years ago still hurt just as much as if they were spoken yesterday.

But I've let those words, and that number, rule me for long enough.

There has been one common thread woven throughout all my weight loss ventures...scale obsession. Those numbers mattered to me so much that I had to see them daily. I just HAD to. My daily mood would then hinge on what that number on the scale was. So many days I would see a bad number then rush to the kitchen to eat out of frustration and disappointment, horrible self-talk in tow. This was a pattern that had to be broken this time.

I eventually cut it down to once a week, but I would still sneak on it two or three times throughout the week. I would tell myself I was "just checking" on how I was doing.  Playing the same pattern I had when weighing daily. This, my friends, wore me out. My worth became what those numbers revealed.

A few months back, I was having some God-talk-time. Read this as a girl crying her eyes out at her Fathers feet, begging for help. He revealed to me three things to specifically do some heart work on. One of them...weigh once a month. And this girl sat up and listened.

One quote from the book Made to Crave really jumped out at me.
I am a Jesus girl who can step on the scale and see the numbers as an indication of how much my body weighs and not as an indication of my worth.
Wow. Powerful, huh? Actually reading that made my eyes overflow with tears. That number had held me captive for so many years, feeling free of it was emotionally overwhelming.

Last year, I actually went an entire month without weighing myself. I know, crazy right? There were days I walked past the scale and sooooo wanted to hop on it. Instead, I prayed and gave it to Him. And He gave me the strength to walk past it. I will weigh tomorrow morning but I know one thing already, whatever number it shows won't define me. I am so much more than a number.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Philippians 4:13


The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast {Book Review}

Tuesday, January 06, 2015


The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast
By Kristen Feola

About the book:
The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast is an inspiring resource for Christians who want to pursue a more intimate relationship with God through the 21-day commitment to prayer and fasting known as the Daniel Fast. As you deny yourself certain foods - such as sugars, processed ingredients, and solid fats - you will not only embrace healthier eating habits, you’ll also discover a greater awareness of God’s presence. Author Kristen Feola explains the Daniel Fast in easy-to-understand language, provides 21 thought-provoking devotionals for each day of the fast, and shares more than 100 tasty, easy-to-make recipes that follow fasting guidelines. In a conversational style, Feola helps you structure the fast so you can spend less time thinking about what to eat and more time focusing on God. You will also discover that “to fast” means “to feast” on the only thing that truly nourishes?God’s powerful Word. For more info, please visit www.ultimatedanielfast.com.

As I was approaching the new year, I knew that I was going to focus on a healthier me.  And that, of course, would mean changing my eating habits.  When I saw this book up for review, I was over-the-moon and chose it straight away.

I wasn't familiar at all with the Daniel Fast while coming into this review.  I was so super thankful that Kristen explained it, in detail, in this book.  It always makes me so happy when books are in "every day" language that is easily understood.

The Fast is explained as eliminating commonly enjoyed foods for twenty-one days as an act of worship and of consecrating oneself to God.  The book is divided into three parts and includes over 100 recipes and a 21 day devotional. Part 1 is about the Fast itself, Part 2 is all about where you should focus your heart during the Fast, and Part 3 is about the food that you will be eating and what to avoid.

If you have ever considered the Daniel Fast, you have got to get this amazing instructional book. Kristen delivers a heart-felt walk through this book to encourage you as you pray your way through your fast.

This book was provided to me free of charge by Book Look in return for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Meal Planning Monday

Monday, January 05, 2015


Monday - Parmesan crusted chicken (10 points) and a baked potato

Tuesday - Creamy chicken and rice casserole (10 points)...this is super super yummy and it's easy!

Wednesday - Gortons garlic butter filet (3 points) and Cauliflower Casserole (5 points)

Thursday - Healthy Buffalo Chicken Mac N Cheese (7 points)

Friday - Subway. I love subway, so so so many healthy choices.

Saturday - Out to dinner with the fam

Sunday - Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and homemade rolls


Sharing My Journey

Sunday, January 04, 2015

As y'all know, I'm beginning my weight loss journey again.  And if you've followed this blog for any amount of time, you know I keep it real here.  I feel it's important for me to share my full story as I begin my journey.  Not for pity, not so y'all will feel bad for me, but simply it's part of who I am.  It's a journey God chose me to walk on.

In January of 2008 I decided to quit smoking and get healthy. It was time to show my littles that you CAN do anything you set your mind to. And to give them something to be proud of. I was so worn out with being the “fat” friend, mother, daughter and girl. Goodness, you have no idea how worn out I was with that. It always felt like in every circle, I was the "fat" one. It was clearly time to change.

Over the next two years I busted my rear and lost over 80 pounds. I was going to the gym daily {at 5 am nonetheless, what the what}, teaching a zumba class and following Weight Watchers. I was dedicated like woah. I could pass up those food days at work like no ones business. In two years I went from a size 22 to a size 14. The new life I had was amazing!!!


And then my world fell apart.

I went in for a routine laproscopic hysterectomy. One of the first cuts the doctor made hit a main artery. A 9 inch incision, 2 units of blood, 1 unit of plasma and 1 unit of platelets later I woke in ICU. I had nearly died during the surgery. And during the surgery the doctor also missed a huge cyst on my left ovary. Four months later I went in to have that removed.

During that surgery, the same doctor put a clip on my ureter and put a hole in it. Three days later I had emergency surgery for a kidney that hadn't drained in days. They installed a stent, hoping that would help the ureter heal.

Over the next 7 months, I had 8 surgeries to replace the stent. Each one would get corroded and calcified and cause a kidney infection, which would knock me on my butt. Finally the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic determined I needed a ureter reconstruction.

In October of 2012 I had a 14 hour surgery to repair my damaged ureter. While they were operating, they also found I had a partial bowel obstruction and that was fixed as well.

The surgery was a success! But sadly, my kidney had too much damage done to it. It was no longer functioning at all and was causing more harm than good. In February of 2013 I had my kidney removed. It was a routine surgery but unfortunately, I had a small stroke during it, awaking to a completely numb face on the left side.

Thankfully over time, my body healed itself and the stroke is barely noticeable. Although I do still have days, like two days ago, where the drooping on the left side of my face is really noticeable. I wish I knew why it's so noticeable some days.

I have issues with abdominal scar tissue, but that is an issue I'll always have.  My body just seems to love that stuff and grows it like crazy.  I just had a surgery in December for lysis of adhesions to fix another partial bowel obstruction and free up what it was wrapped around.
 
Over the years of me being sick, in pain physically and emotionally, I've gained weight back. It’s the most embarrassing, shameful thing I've ever dealt with.  Some days it’s even hard to leave the house.

I will always have health issues, and that's something I accepted long ago.  It's so easy for me to accept that as part of the journey God has planned for me.  But this changing body of mine, riddled with scars and weight gain, has been the hardest for me to accept.

I don't know what His plan is for me, but I must be brave enough to follow it. I must have the strength to accept His plan and realize it isn't a punishment. I have to know that God hasn't abandoned me, He is growing me.

God grows those He loves through difficult times. And He loves me. And He loves you. And since He does, He walks with us through difficult trials. And I am here to tell you, this weight issue is one of the biggest trials I've ever faced. The beauty of the Christian life isn't that we’ll live trial free, but that we’ll have the hand of Jesus through the trial.

 




My Journey Continues

Saturday, January 03, 2015


2014 was a ridiculously hard year for me; physically, emotionally and mentally. My weight loss journey has been pushed aside for quite a while now. Actually it's non-existent at this point. Not only did I have physical limitations but I guess I had some mental ones as well. There were times I wanted to just throw in the towel and give up on my journey (and on so so many days I did). I had a year full of pain from adhesions that resulted in a surgery in December. So many days, with my weight loss, it left me feeling defeated, broken and like a failure. I felt like I not only let myself down but also those people that always told me I had inspired them. I was embarrassed and many days didn't want to leave the house and have others see me. And honestly, I was angry. I was so angry at myself.

BUT...

I absolutely refuse to let circumstances defeat me and I will NOT be broken. This girl right here, she's a strong one. And with God by my side I can do ANYTHING. I am determined, now more than ever, to get this journey rolling again.

I've created an Instagram dedicated to my journey. It's called Amys_losing_it_again. You have no idea how accurate that title is, ha. So follow me and journey with me.

So, for now, I would super love if you could pray for me and my journey please. I'm trying to figure out where it all fits in. God spoke to my heart and gave me 3 direct things to do. And I'll be working on those as He transforms me. God is good, always. And I know, as with everything else, He will gave me the strength to do this.

One Little Word - 2015

Friday, January 02, 2015


Here we are, starting a new year. I have to admit, there is a big part of me that thrills over the fresh beginning in front of us and ahead of us is all unwritten. It’s like a fresh blanket of white snow that no footsteps are in yet.

For years, I've picked a word to be my “one little word” for the year. Two years ago I shook it up some and picked a verse of the year. Last year I was a total trendsetter and did both.

While I was thinking and praying for my one little word, I spent some time reading Ali Edwards blog {she is the creator of one little word}. Wow, there are some amazing, inspiring words for 2015! Inspire, calm, still, thrive, whole and forward are just a few of the words others have chosen. Wow, are those not some awesome words!

As I was praying, God kept giving me the same word over and over again. This happens every year. And every year, without a doubt, I find myself saying “Are you sure? I mean maybe I just misunderstood.” I always pout around, feel slighted and wish I had a “cool kid” word. And then, as every other year, I realize I'm being a selfish spoiled brat.

I’m fairly certain if God gives you a word, that you should take it and embrace it. And with that, I give you my word for 2015.

Peace.

I was thinking about some of my goals for 2015...

1) To nurture and create peace within some difficult relationships in my life. If nothing else, to create peace inside myself by accepting where these relationships lie.

2) To create an atmosphere of peace in my household. To make it a peaceful retreat that my family is excited to come home to.

3) To be at peace with myself, with who I am and who God has transformed me into.

Peace within myself, inner peace, seeking peacefulness and a calm in my heart, nurturing peace around me - with family, in my work and in the world.


I've claimed this word and verse as my theme for the next 365 days. I’m going to post it where I can see it daily, maybe in a few different places, and meditate on it often. This one little word is between God and I. It’s something that I've really felt He has been trying to work on in my heart lately.

Peace to me means quiet moments where I am fully present. Simple pleasures that fill me with a calmness that I needed. I love peace. It speaks to me of Faith, of coffee on my porch with my devotional, of holding my husbands hand while watching a movie and long quiet walks.

I have a journal that I write in daily, and my word of the year makes an appearance often.  In my daily “God talk” time, I ask God to show me what He has to teach me about the word in my life, and then I collect quotes, Bible verses, sermon notes, conversation tidbits, impressions, etc. by jotting them down in my journal, one thought to a page.

As we head into the New Year, would you want to join me and prayerfully consider claiming a word and verse for the year? I’m sure God has a special one just for you. Write the word and verse down, pray about it, journal about it and open your heart for whatever lessons God has in store for you.

Hello 2015...Goodbye 2014

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Hello, Goodbye...end of the year style.  Which, for us, means a year review in pictures of course.






















Cha-cha-cha-changes

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


I will go on a diet.

I will get my spending habits under control.

I will be more patient with my kids.

I will be a better wife, daughter, sister, friend.

I will exercise regularly.

I will pray more.

Sound Familiar? Yep, it's the resolution train. And by March, more than likely it will derail (if you make it that long). How do I know? So many times I've vowed to make a change with every intention of sticking it out. And then, two or three weeks later, I would throw the towel in. Giving up is something I am sooooo good at. I would consider myself a bit of a pro actually.

It certainly wasn't because of a lack of desire; I wanted to change. Motivation wasn't the issue, either; I was highly motivated (at least for the first two weeks in January). Resolutions are really goals in disguise. I was treating my resolutions as desires when what I needed to do was set specific goals.

How can we fix this?  Be specific and realistic. Honestly, you can do anything you set your mind to, anything at all. If you have an area that you keep stumbling in, ask yourself the reason that you're making this change. It has to be because YOU want to make the change. If you are doing it because you feel you have to or you feel as if someone else wants you to, chances are you won't stick to the plan. Also, keep your resolutions realistic. Expecting a 50 lb. weight loss in one month is not very doable.

If you've decided that this is truly a change you want to make and one that is pleasing to God, the next step is spending some time on your knees praying about it. Remember, with God by your side ALL things are possible.

So, this year increase the chances that you’ll be one of the people who meet their New Year’s goals. All it takes is a realistic approach and a can-do attitude.

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