Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Marriage Mini-Series ~ and the $40 Giveaway!

The most intimate of companionships.  An all-encompassing commitment to grace and forgiveness.  A God-ordained covenant.  A priceless lifetime gift that requires an endless stream of selfless, sacrificial choices that enable a man and a woman to love each other deeply and well.

As a counselor, I've learned countless important marriage lessons in the office, intently listening to brokenhearted women and men, their searing words pouring forth like hot molten lava.  Anger, frustration, hurt, and fear co-mingling like stones in a pile, just waiting to be picked up and hurled again.

Listening to the spoken pain while discerning all that was unspoken, observing body language and hidden family dynamics that peeked out from behind heavy-duty armor built up over time.  And mediating harsh words lobbed like grenades, all the while teaching spouses to speak what's most true about where one is, but doing so in love and with respect.

Learning how to live out love and respect and forgiveness while making our way through the mud and mire of the trenches is a hard task for us, isn't it.

Yet ... the strongest lessons on marriage have been gleaned from my own personal journey with my husband, Tim, 40 years of intimate travels up high and lofty hills and through valleys deep and treacherous.  It hasn't always been a stroll in the park.  We were just babies when we met and married.  Really.

But I have grown to love, appreciate, and depend on this man with a strongly intense depth of warmth and passion that I never dreamed possible.  Even though our extrovert / introvert personalities are as different as night is from day, our deepening personal faith in Christ has been rock solid and has birthed strongly held core values that are nearly identical.

An interesting dynamic for sure.




I've learned much through the dailyness, the laughter, the woundedness, the glories, the hurt, and the disappointments.  The crises, the prayers, the illnesses, the frustration, the grief, and the sheer delight.  And oh, the parenting.  Through seemingly endless tears poured out like rivers ... and beautiful dreams that have come true.

The truth is that any marital success that we celebrate has been born out of seasons of intense crisis and purposeful changes of heart and behavior along the way.  We know what it's like to sit in a counseling office together.  And here we are, still deeply in love and very committed, yet so very far from perfect, celebrating our 40th ...

That's just plain grace.  Pure and simple.

I welcome you to this little mini-series.  I've got a vague idea where we're going, and although every post isn't crystal to me yet, there will most likely be a tender story or two, a bunch of pitfalls to avoid like the plague, scads of resources, and maybe a surprise or 2.

And if you've got a question or a challenge you're leaning into, feel free to email me at lindastoll@juno.com and maybe we'll do a bit of a Q & A post, ok?

My biggest desire?  To create a safe, open space for you to share insights from your own personal pathway, the meaningful victories, failures, and discoveries you've gathered along the way.

'Cause that's how we do life around here.

You might be happy to hear that every comment left on any Marriage Mini-Series post puts your name in the hat for a giveaway of a $40 Amazon gift card at the conclusion of this little journey.  More details to come.


I promise you no easy answers and no 1-2-3's.  I can only trust that what unfolds will bring God glory ... and will offer you the encouragement to keep forging on in your own marital relationship.  Please invite your friends along for the ride, ok?  The social media links are below.  I can't help but believe that there'll be something along the way worth sharing.

Away we go!


MARRIAGE MINI-SERIES INDEX


sharing the invitation with
Anita  .  Kelly  .  Beth  .  Holley  .  Lyli

*

66 comments:

  1. If anyone can create a safe environment for talking about marriage, it is you, dear Linda. I cannot wait to hear your wisdom on this subject. There's always so much to learn from one another, especially since we are all different though much the same too. I also love that you're inviting questions and challenges to address in this series. I love when real needs are met. I will pray that God clarifies exactly where you should go in this series. And you know you've got a friend (that's me!) who's tagging along to listen and learn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you'll pop in ALOT along the way, Beth. I truly respect the depth of your wisdom and discernment on this subject. I want to showcase what you have to offer ... and yes, even at 40 years, I'm still a student.

      ;-}

      Delete
  2. You have an easy way of interacting here in this space so I have no doubt that this will be a safe place for all to come and learn from you about marriage. I am excited to follow along and join in along the way. As a single person, I bring a different perspective, however, what I have learned from you and my friend Beth (above) is that there is always so much to learn about relationships even if I am not currently married.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your perspective is truly of great value to me, to us here, Mary. If you'd weigh in along the way, I know it would be a huge add-on to the conversation. Many faithful readers are single, and I hope that even on this specific subject, there'll be some kind of takeaway for everyone.

      Thanks for helping kick off the series, friend!

      Delete
  3. I'm looking forward to this series, Linda. I know you'll do a stellar job.

    And I love the sketch...though I have to confess that it give me a slight heart-pang, because my wife and I never had that serene closeness, that 'looking forward together'. PTSD makes it hard to look forward with a clear eye, because the heart is pulled in twain, and perhaps the greater part left withal on foreign and bloody soil.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2016/03/your-dying-spouse-127-big-why.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, yes, Andrew. Those PTSD tentacles spread their fear far and wide, impacting those who care about us most. Your readers have benefited from your brave sharing along the way, and I hope that even this little series will give us an opportunity to learn more from your experience.

      May blessings surprise you and Barbara with their appearance today, friend ...

      Delete
  4. Congratulations and best wishes on your 40th Wedding Anniversary.

    Look forward to reading your mini-series on marriage. I do not wish to participate in the draw; but please give the money to charity should I win.

    God bless you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're not only awise and funny man, but a generous one, too, Victor. This community wouldn't be the same without your winsome visits!

      Delete
  5. dear Linda, i cant wait! have a beautiful week! <3

    ReplyDelete
  6. Such heart felt, grace full words here. This is gonna be good! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You bless me, girl, with your anticipation! Can't wait to see what God's going to do!

      Delete
  7. Hi Linda! You have years of wonderful experience, both at work and at home. What a blessing that you will share all that rich information with all of us! It's such a great way for you to continue to shepherd with your counseling, and for us to be enriched.

    Sounds like a great combo to me! Looking forward to your wisdom here.
    Ceil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like your E-word, Ceil ... enriched! Trusting that God will do heart-level work in all our lives through the conversations that spring forth.

      Delete
  8. Marriage isn't a topic that often captures my attention in a blog post, but I am very much looking forward to this, Linda. I have no doubt that whatever unfolds in this mini-series will do just what you are hoping--encourage your readers and bring God glory!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please pray that for us, Lois! It's kind of nice not to have too many concrete ideas so that God can direct this series' pathway! I'm always intrigued at how He unfolds things in our lives ...

      Delete
  9. isn't it interesting Linda, how when you say "40" (43 for me) people are more shocked than thrilled? Sad commentary. Looking forward to reading your series.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, us old timers are a rare breed, Bill. I'm grateful for every year He's blessed us with ... and I want to encourage others to hang on to their covenant commitment ... especially through the rough patches.

      For they are sure to come ...

      Delete
  10. I know I will love this series!!! But I love anything and everything you share with us. <3

    Guess what... hubs is back in the states. Medical issues brought him back. All is okay. I will go see him soon!!

    Love you, friend.
    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Praying for him, for you, right now even as we speak, Beth. Please keep me posted, ok?

      Delete
  11. Hi Linda. I look forward to your wisdom and insight. God has gifted you with a wealth of experience, and it's so wonderful you desire to share with us. I love this simple truth - "That's just plain grace. Pure and simple." God be with you and bless you and all of us in this journey!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, please pray for this little community as we reflect on the ups and downs of the years after "I do.'

      Thanks for being here, Trudy!

      Delete
  12. Anticipating reading the wisdom shared in this marriage series, Linda. Looking forward to seeing what God does in and through you, friend. Thank you for your faithfulness. : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And thank you for your steady faithfulness in keeping marriage front and center on your blog, Crystal! And happy anniversary to you and your Tim!

      ;-}

      Delete
  13. Looking forward to this series, Linda! I'll be sharing with my friends on social media, too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that you're sharing what's happening here with your tribe, June. A lovely bunch, I'm sure! Thank you, thank you, friend ...

      Delete
  14. Sounds like a great series, Linda! As an older sister also with a counselor's experience and 11 more years of marriage under our belt and also an introvert/extrovert combo, I can say "Amen" to all you have written here and very much look forward to the journey with you in this new series. My husband and I were talking about someone we love dearly in our family who is currently experiencing some disappointment in their 21+ year marriage....nothing big, but a lot of little things stacking up.....my sweetheart hugged me and checked in on whether or not he was doing okay in some of the areas we had discussed about this other marriage. I could assure him he was, but also reminded him that he is better than he has ever been and that he didn't learn to be a husband overnight any more than I learned to be a wife overnight. Every day as we have worked at it, it has become richer, deeper, and more solid than it was when our wedding rings were new. Love and hugs, my friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, we do resonate, Pam. And this that you wrote -->'my sweetheart hugged me and checked in on whether or not he was doing okay in some of the areas we had discussed about this other marriage.'

      Well all I can say is that this man is a rare find, a priceless spouse. Most men don't open themselves up in that vulnerable way. You both, indeed are blessed.

      I look forward to your involvement in these marriage conversations from your perspective as a counselor as well as a spouse. So grateful you're onboard!

      And speaking of wedding rings ... I think that's what our next post is all about.

      ;-}

      Delete
  15. Having Christ at that centre truly is how marriage can be saved, yes? I can't speak on marriage but do hope God will bless me with another chance one day. I do believe though, that if my ex-husband and I had known God, our marriage may have taken a different course. Yet, He is a God of redemption! Now God is the centre of my life (and even my ex-husband and his new family attend the same church as I now). God is good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing just a glimpse of your journey, Lynn. I know that what you feel comfortable bringing to the table here will only add to the discussions.

      Praise God that He redeems our hurt, our crises, our pain. Yes, He is a powerful Redeemer. How it warms my heart to hear you proclaim that reality loud and clear.

      Blessings to you ...

      Delete
  16. This does sound like a great series, Linda. How did I miss that you were a counselor! Forty years is a beautiful accomplishment. What joy! My husband and I just had a wonderful meal with my brother and his wife, and interestingly, the conversation turned to marriage and relationships. So refreshing to hear their points of view. Can't wait to hear more about yours!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, I'm looking forward to chatting about all-things-marriage, and hearing what's worked {and what hasn't!} for this community. I hope it's all enriching and life-giving.

      And Betsy, how glad I am that you're here!

      Delete
  17. What a wonderful idea! Marriage Mini-series, so needed - and such an important part of our lives that we often neglect or 'put on the back burner' when it needs to be in the forefront. I pray your series will touch many:) Visiting you today from the #raralinkup!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ain't that the truth, Kristine. Everything and everybody else squeezes their way to the forefront ... and our spouses and the relationship we claim to treasure so easily fades to the back of the bus.

      Delete
  18. Linda,
    Love the sketch of you and Tim :-) So cute! I look forward to reading your words of wisdom. I know at 24+ years of marriage that my hubby and I still have loads to learn...loads...grateful for grace and God :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, I'm still a student, too, Dolly. I guess we never stop learning.

      ;-}

      Delete
  19. This sounds like an interesting mini-series. Count me in!

    ReplyDelete
  20. What a blessing you are to share your wisdom with others! I know many will gleam from you knowledge and experience!
    Blessings, Friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're a sweetie. Thanks for your support, friend. It means alot ...

      ;-}

      Delete
  21. That's exciting! And what a cute caricature of you both. Mark and I had one done at Valley Fair years ago. It still hangs in our bedroom. Looking forward to reading more of these.

    Re your comment on my post "Of Parties and Time Capsules..." Linda, we had so much fun with it.

    Glad you could stop by here. Thanks.

    Jennifer Dougan
    www.jenniferdougan.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having fun getting to know you a bit, Jennifer! And yes, I LOVED the donuts!

      Yum!

      Delete
  22. Right behind you, Linda, coming up on 39 years this fall. Yes, we were babies (well, I definitely was) and yes, as different as night and day but....those core values....yes, they are our rock. Reading this warmed me to the core, Linda. You are a blessing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If we've got the core values ... and they include a deep faith in Christ, we can weather the storms.

      Yes we can!

      Delete
  23. Hi Linda, I am so glad for visiting today. I would have to kick myself if I missed you new series *smiles*. You are always full of wisdom with a very humorous style to passing across your message.
    I can't wait friend.
    Many Blessings to you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you're here, Ifeoma! I know this has been a busy season for you ...

      Delete
  24. What an awesome, much-needed mini-series! I'm really looking forward to your wise and blessed future posts. Congratulations on 40 years of marriage!

    Your cute caricature gave me an idea. My husband and I had a charcoal sketch done of us at an amusement park when we were dating. I think I will try to have the sketch recreated with our images today for our 35th wedding anniversary this fall. Thanks for the inspiration! Still and always a student here too. God's continued blessings to you, Linda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love your 35th gift to yourselves, Cheryl! How fun.

      And I thought our artist was MOST generous and gracious in her sketch!

      ;-}

      Delete
  25. really good ... It will be interesting to read these upcoming blogs.

    {via email}

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I'm sure you'll have a few punchy comments along the way!

      ;-}

      Delete
  26. Linda,
    I have nothing to offer your series since I'm single but I'm sure you will be brilliant in this series! :) I love the little cartoon of you and your husband -- I'm just here to cheer you on! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How serendipitous that we were reading each other's posts at the exact same time!

      ;-}

      Thanks for the good cheer, Valerie. I hope there will be some kind of encouragement for you and our single friends. You bring a wealth of wisdom and insight to the table.

      Delete
  27. Linda, this sounds like a wonderful series. I am still a student too. We change with time and so do our relationships. God bless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad we've met today, Debbie! Enjoy the series!

      ;-}

      Delete
  28. Your series sounds wonderful, Linda. My Jim and I have been married 40 years as well. I am sure I still have lots to learn. :)

    Love that drawing of you and your hubs on your 40th!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Can. Not. Wait! I love a good marriage series.Grace, grace, and more grace...we need it for ourselves, but how much more do we need it in marriage! It's hard! And not for the faint of heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it isn't always easy. And people can say that all they want, but it's not until you're in the thick of things that you realize how much of all the fruit of the Spirit you really need to live this commitment out well.

      mmm, Alecia ... I feel a blog post coming on!!

      Delete
  30. Linda, congrats on your 40 years of marriage! How wonderful that is; I hope one day to reach that milestone :)
    You're so sweet offer your wisdom and insight in marriage to others, I know many will be blessed.

    Happy to have found you at coffee for your heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How fun to meet you this morning, Crystal! Welcome, welcome!

      Delete
  31. Bud and I plan to celebrate our 57th anniversary in July, and we are still workiing on our marriage. I find that showing respect is always a challenge. We do love each other deeply!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 57!!

      Wow!!

      It keeps us humble as we realize that challenges still await and that even after all the decades, we still have work to do to keep our love fresh and glowing!

      Blessings, friend ...

      Delete
  32. We just celebrated our 20th anniversary, and are halfway to where you are... and yes I can say that along the way our love has grown more deeper, as we have built on the difficulties and challenges that have presented themselves, and our love grows more strong and deep every day, but thankfully the Lord is in the middle of that bond, and I cannot imagine it any other way!

    I am enjoying this new series that you are sharing, and look forward to more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I"m glad you're doing community with us here, my Idaho friend ...

      ;-}

      Delete

'I want the people in my life to know that when they come to me, with whatever is on their mind or heart, they will be heard. I am dedicated to hearing the hearts of those around me.'
~ Adam McHugh, The Listening Life

Linda