The {Thai) Breaker in Marriage

When I said those four, small, life-changing words “I do, of course,” I knew there were things about me that would change. You know, things other than the obvious … like my last name and mailing address.

For example, I figured that I’d end up watching a whole lot more Fox News. Because … well … that’s what happens when one marries a news junkie and agrees to share the same couch and remote. Suddenly, talking heads and the latest conflict in the Middle East become regular company.

Even so, there was one thing I was absolutely, positively convinced without a doubt would not change. As in, ever.

And that was my feelings about Thai food.

Sure, I might be marrying a man who loved it, but no way was I becoming a green curry and drunken noodle addict. You see, I’d had my share of bad experiences with the cuisine.

All two of them.

The first was at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Van Nuys, California, with a woman my sisters and I had come to call our Jewish grandmother. Let’s just say the company was good, but the pad thai, well, I never thought I’d find my peanut-loving self wanting to hose the taste of nuts out of my mouth. I did that day … and for days after.

The second? It was a few years later at my boss’ mother’s dinner party on the Big Island of Hawaii. Yeah, complicated. I know. Granted, what I ate that evening was really more Japanese-Thai-Hawaiian fusion, but it ruined me for ever trying Thai food again. (My apologies to those of you who enjoy that trio of cuisines combined.) I determined once and for all that I didn’t like Thai food. Not then. Not ever.

Or so I thought. Almost a decade into marriage, I now eat … and crave … Thai food regularly. So what happened?

Well, because I love my husband Ted, I decided to share in his “joy” of Thai food by at least giving it another chance. Sure, it took me about six years of marriage to come to this decision, but I finally did. And you know what they say, the third time’s the charm, right? I discovered I loved it. Turns out I just needed to find a Thai restaurant that specialized in using quality, fresh ingredients, wasn’t too peanut happy, and didn’t involve the word “fusion.”

Do you know what this change has taught me?

It’s helped me learn the importance of stepping out of my comfort zone and being willing to try new things … even if I’m convinced I’m not going to like them. I’ve come to see that these experiences not only enrich me as an individual, they go far in helping Ted and me continue to grow together.

And the funny thing is, you could replace the phrase “Thai food” with a number of things. Sushi. Dystopian films. Some talk radio. There are a number of other areas where I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and discovered a new “like.”

So the next time your husband mentions the hole-in-the-wall restaurant he loves and you’d rather not try, maybe give it a chance. Even if it is a second or third one. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You discover you were right all along?

Whether you end up with a new favorite or not, I guarantee you’ll find your marital bond strengthened just because you decided to lay your own comfort aside and share in your husband’s joy.

I know because I’ve tried it.

Ashleigh and


For more practical ways to cultivate and strengthen unity in your marriage, check out my new book, Team Us: Marriage Together.

An Encouraging Word for Our Daughters Who Dare to Dream

An Encouraging Word for Our Daughters Who Dare to Dream

I feel rather blessed.

Being the mother of several teenage daughters—young, bright, and beautiful. All of them hoping to get married some day.

These girls dare to dream.

But to tell you the truth, they’ve grown a little doubtful lately.

The girls observe these marriages around them falling apart right before their eyes. They’ve seen the destruction of divorce and have stayed up late comforting dear friends whose parents are parting ways.

Or, they watch while some couples stay together, yet grow increasingly cold and distant. Tension filling the air.

It troubles them to think of their lives ending up in this unhappy way.

It messes with their minds and messes with their dreams.

They’re not little girls anymore and they understand that life is no fairytale.

But they can’t help wondering where did all the good stories go? You know, the ones with a happy ending? Whatever happened to happily-ever-after?

And this is what I say to them…

My dear girls,

I believe in a good God who desires to write a beautiful story for our lives.

Rather than looking at the messed-up world around you, fix your eyes on Him who is more than able to care for you. He is the One you can trust for your hope and for your future.

…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (I Pet. 5:7)

I believe in a God who is in the business of changing people. He can change me and He can move that man of mine. He has the power to transform our marriage into something wonderful and glorifying to Him.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17)

I believe in a God who restores and redeems. He can heal the broken and save the lost. I’ve seen Him turn lives around and rescue marriages from the most impossible situations.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Ps. 34:18)

I believe in a God who sees the big picture. While we might only see the snapshot – what is happening today – He knows what our future holds.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11)

Take your dad and me, for example. Here we are, two imperfect people who have learned to love each other—who are still learning to love each other. Look at the good work God is doing in and through our life together. Growing, learning, forgiving and loving some more. This is the stuff that makes for some of the best stories.

This is a real love story.

So that’s the kind of story I’m hoping for our daughters and the kind I’m hoping for you. Not because I believe in fairytales, but because I believe in a good and powerful God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)

The Jacobson Girls

So go ahead and dare to dream, girls.

Because we know the God who is the Author of the greatest love story – and we are known by Him.

Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women

The One Thing Families Can’t Survive Without

It’s been said that “A good marriage is the union of two forgivers.” I couldn’t agree more. Family life is no different. It requires even more forgiveness and grace than marriages does, simply because there are more people involved!

I would go so far as to say that without forgiveness, families don’t survive. An unforgiving, unyielding parent sets the tone for heartbreak and ruin in years to come.

Family life requires a daily laying down of self, doesn’t it? Motherhood is a series of little and big opportunities to die to ourselves so that our children might flourish. Think of the mom with the newborn who would give almost anything for some sleep—yet cries from the bassinet beckon and she can’t help but smile at the beautiful infant she sees looking up at her. Suddenly, sleep becomes less important than taking care of her baby. On and on it goes, this laying down.

Forgiveness is a laying down, too. It’s a laying down of pride and the selfish desire to be “right.” Learning to be a good forgiver is one key to successful parenting and marriage.

Over the years, I’ve spoken to many moms about this and it seems it’s a common struggle. Sometimes it’s easier to be kind to the woman at WalMart than it is to be gracious to my own kids or my husband.

We easily take our most precious relationships for granted, because we feel the most comfortable with the ones with whom our relationships are the most secure.

I have been on both ends of un-forgiveness in relationships. Both sides hurt. When we refuse to forgive, bitterness is the sure result—and bitterness is the death of real relationship. Over time, unforgiveness becomes poisonous—and the one who suffers the most is the one who won’t forgive.

Unforgiveness is like swallowing poison—and expecting the other person to die.

Refusal to accept another’s apology is equally damaging. Our pride gets in the way and it keeps us from letting the offender off the hook. Of course, in the end, the person on the hook is the one who can’t move on in freedom and forgiveness.

Life is hard. Sometimes, we wait our whole lives for an apology we will never get. I want to challenge you to forgive—even in the absence of a deserved apology. Sometimes, I’ve learned, we must accept the apology we will never get in an effort to bring peace to our own soul and move forward.

Of course, there are things that are not easy to forgive, but forgive we must. Forgive for yourself. Forgive for your children. If you want your children to learn to forgive and move on, they must see you do it first.

As mothers, we are setting the example. Our children are watching us—and actions speak louder than words.

Do you need to be forgiven? Ask for it. Do you need to forgive? Don’t put it off.

Your family is worth it.


Heidi St. John

 Photo courtesy of Lifesong Photography 

What I Did When My Husband Confronted My Parenting


My husband sat across from me over breakfast. Our son sat in his highchair playing and eating. It was over this morning meal my husband confronted me about my parenting.

He gently and respectfully asked,

“Honey, what has changed with you when it comes to feeding our son? We use to be on the same page, but lately I feel like you have thrown out things we have agreed on. You give him whatever you want to and disregard what I think is appropriate.”

I immediately wanted to defend my parenting abilities. I wanted to justify why I give my child portions of things that are not nutritionally valuable including: I don’t want him to miss out, he is over one so its ok, and a little won’t hurt him. I heard these excuses jump out of my mouth before I could soundly consider them. None of which answered my husband’s question as to why I decided to deviate from the plan without his consideration. I wanted to fight for what I had done, for the choices I’d advocated for our son, and for the example I lead in my own eating habits, but as I was confronted, God showed me the best thing I could do was apologize.

I wasn’t able to apologize right away because my flesh always gets in the way of that! We got hung up on a few frustrating arguments surrounded around he said/she said, what was generally said and exactly mentioned. Then finally I came around…

“I am so sorry. I am aware that I lack self-control when it comes to my eating habits and I am sure that a part of me that justifies poor eating for me, also does the same thing with our son. I am also sorry for choosing to disregard decisions we made as a family to offer him healthy food over junk food. That was disrespectful of me. I want to be on the same page with you as we parent together.”

Those words took a little more effort to blurt out than the ones that seem so confident about justifying poor behavior. But once said, I realized how much they were truly needed.

My husband is a patient man. Although he had made small comments here and there over the last few months to encourage healthy eating, I pushed his words and his intentions to parent a specific way aside, pridefully believing that it would be ok.

The truth is that I neglected to follow through on goals we made together to feed our son in a healthy way. Although my son receives some of the best nutritional food on the market, I was sneaking him ice cream bites, cookies, crackers, fries and many more types of foods that are not as nutritional all under the banner of acceptability. I told myself a little won’t hurt him, in fact he will love it!

If my actions were never confronted by my husband, I could have been a catalyst for poor eating throughout my child’s life. If I am not careful, I still can be. The choices I make for my son will influence how he makes decisions as an adult. I am helping shape him.

Parenting also affects marriage. If my parenting disrespects my husband the contention from that will cause strife and bitterness. It is vital that I am aware of the choices I make in parenting and consider how they will affect my marriage.  All of which I should be submitting to God.

I believe it is important for husbands and wives to parent on the same page and give each other room to confront each other. We are our children’s greatest advocates and there is a lot of responsibility that comes with that, there nutrition being a big part. After being confronted, I was humbled and then I was inspired to make changes to better the quality of life my family experiences. I want to respect the goals my husband and I make together and I want to help advocate for good clean eating, as well as so much more.

If any of you have been confronted as a parent, especially if your spouse confronted you, I urge you to grip the defense that wants to fight and prayerfully consider if God wants to use that confrontation to show you how you can be better!

– Jennifer Smith 

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