Practically Married

This weekend my wife and I attended a marriage conference sponsored in part by our friends at Exodus Church in Belmont NC. We don’t go to church with those folks but we often listen in on sermons and have, on many occasions, worked in the community with people who worship there. They’re awesome people who serve God with enthusiasm so you’d have a hard time not liking them… or, at least, I do.

The conference promised to “
bring biblical insight and encouragement to you and your marriage” which it did in a stellar way. The conference is heavy on Q&A and I heard a few folks ask for practical recommendations but didn’t really hear any offered.

The problem, I think, was that Pastor Ortlund and his wife were trying to teach something hard and many folks were looking for a “quick win”. They were looking for “send flowers to your wife two days before her birthday” and got something much more scriptural. The scriptural answer that the conference provided was the correct one and one that leads to practical application if you actually hear the message.

The core of the conference was around just a few verses from Ephesians chapter 5:
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself.

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church:

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she respect her husband.

I won’t deal with the biblical meaning of submission in marriage. If you want to hear an awesome discussion of what that means in the biblical sense (hint: it ain’t what you expect) and how to apply it then I highly recommend listening to Brian Lowe’s sermon “
Modern Family – Modern Wives”. He addresses the topic in a gentle, clear way. You can listen to the entire “Modern Family” series (Feb 5 2012 through March 3 2012) on the Exodus Media Page which, again, I highly recommend. The session on Sexuality is particularly… umm… inspiring.

With all of that said… practical tips… Many practical ideas for staying happily married can be found in our “
Letters to Friends” post but here’s the key takeaway that I got from the conference this weekend. It is that Ephesians Chapter 5, verse 33 is written backwards:

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she respect her husband.”

What does that mean in a “practical” sense? It means that in order to infuse romance into your marriage
you need to be capable of receiving romance. Or, to be more direct, in this verse men are commanded to love their wives and wives are commanded to respect their husbands. The reason that this verse is applied backwards from the way it is written is this. In order for romance to exist women must be capable of being loved by their husbands and men must be capable of being respected by their wives.

In the following paragraphs I’m going to make this about men but the same thing applies in a big way for women. In short, if you show respect for your mans leadership you are much easier for him to love.  My wife respects me.  She is open and loud about it.  That makes it easy for me to love her which is abundantly clear in my other posts about her.  That’s not all that goes into it of course… there are two whole lives built on this framework but it is the core of who we are.  There is, to a large degree, mutual love and respect.  It’s just that at the core of it all we value things differently.

To repeat,
and the wife see that she respect her husband
means that as the husband, the man, you have to earn her respect.  You have to give her the opportunity and reason to obey this command.

That means that you should live life inside the four walls of your house in exactly the same way that you (in most cases) profess to live outside them. If you wouldn’t lie to your brothers in the fellowship hall at church you shouldn’t dare to let her see you lie in your home. Ever. This means that you can’t call in sick when you’re not. It means that you can’t lie to the insurance adjuster to get a few more bucks out of him. It means that if you profess a belief in any part of your life you’d better be living that belief in every other part of your life. It means that if you say that you like helping those in need then you need get off of your ass and pick up a hammer. It means that if you go into the world telling people how awesome your wife is that you’d better be telling her the EXACT same thing at home. It means that when you stand up for yourself she respects what you have to say because she knows that you are intentional in everything that you do. It means that, as my Grandfather was fond of saying, you should “be right or be quiet”.  This is what God commands of her and, as her spiritual leader, of you.

But, again, how is this practical? The answer is simple, really… it’s not.

Practical romance; practical marriage, comes from and is driven by following God’s commands. That means that in a truly correct married relationship there’s no need to be told when you need to send flowers because you don’t need to send flowers. You will, of course, but you’ll do it because you want to show her your love and not because you have to do it to keep her from getting angry. You won’t have a choice about whether to buy her chocolates on February 14th; you’ll just do it. You won’t have to be reminded to buy her a present every Easter because you “can’t not” buy them. That’s practical romance.

Give her something to respect and she will respect you. Give her good advice and guidance and she will follow your leadership. When those things happen, love happens. A lot of love happens…. so much that it spills over onto those around you.  Not because she’s following your lead but because she has pride in your leadership.

If you wake up of a morning and realize that you’re not sure that you love your wife anymore it might indeed be the case that you don’t. That happens sometimes and buying her more roses will do exactly nothing to correct it. What will correct it, however, is looking at yourself and understanding why she doesn’t respect you the way she should. Does she see you lie? Does she see you steal? Does she see you break any of the other 8 commandments? Are you giving her enough to respect? For that matter, are you giving her
anything at all to respect?  Try living up to the commitment that you made to God and to her on the day that you got married and see if, maybe, that helps your love for her.

The Sheriff and the Cowboy


I work from home almost exclusively. Most days when I get up I throw a pair of sweats on and stumble to the office. If I go somewhere I’ll put jeans on.  If I know I’m going somewhere later I’ll usually just wear jeans when I get up.  That led to this conversation one morning as I was getting dressed.

“Do I have any clean jeans?” I called to my lovely wife from the bedroom.
“No, I’m washing them.  They’ll be done in an hour.” she yelled back from the kitchen.

No problem, I’ll just wear sweats…

“Hey, do I have any clean sweats?”
“No, I’m washing those next.  Just wear some of mine”

She wears her sweats a little baggy so in a bind I can wear them.  They’re a little short but, whatever.

“You’re out too!”
“No, I’m not… there’s a pair in there.”

I dig for a few minutes and…

“They’re pink…” I complain.
“So? You’re not going anywhere.”

Hard to argue with that logic.

Not wanting to change later I add a blue flannel shirt and white socks.  When my jeans are dry I can just slip them on and be ready to go. 

It’s cold and sunny with no wind outside so I decide to have my coffee on the porch. 

I pull a pair of work boots on and, as I walk through the kitchen, Mrs. Jinksto hands me a cup of coffee with a kiss and a big smile.  I love her.

At the kitchen door, I toss on a heavy canvas Carhart jacket and push a beat up Resistol cowboy hat down on my head.  My unbrushed hair is a little too long and sticks out from under the hat at wild angles but that’s cool, no one’s going to see me way out here.

The cold seeps through the sweat pants as I step onto the porch so I quickly take the three steps down to the driveway.  Out of the shade of the house the early morning sun feels good on a body that’s still waking up.

I take a careful sip from my steaming coffee and enjoy the rich, sweet taste.  It’s Community coffee… shipped in from Louisiana.  Good stuff.

The world is beautiful this morning.  Frost sparkles everywhere.  I stand and slowly survey my tiny domain and notice, finally, the county police car rolling quietly up the driveway. The county police here in Gaston County are what everyone else would call a Sheriff’s department.  We have a sheriff too but they don’t have enforcement duties.  Weird local politics as I understand it.   

I’ve watched enough Cops on TV to know that running when they drive up is a really bad idea.  Especially while wearing pink sweat pants.

So, like an ersatz superhero I stand my ground and wait for him to drive the last 30 yards of the driveway.  My white socks are peeking above my work boots and are tucked under my wife’s too-short hot-pink sweat pants.  I pull my hat down over my eyes.

Gravel crunches as the deputy pulls up next to me.  I slowly take another sip of my wife’s awesome coffee and look at him from under a dirty hat brim. 

He slowly rolls down his window and I say, in my best Sam Elliot voice, “Mornin’ Sheriff, Reckon you’ll be wantin’ some coffee?”

He was still chuckling when he left 10 minutes later.

I touched…


It was cool enough for two shirts today but not a jacket.  One of those middle of the road days that you can’t help pretending is just a fine one.  It was cool and bright but overcast most of the day.  It was a good day for working outside.

We didn’t.  Mrs. Jinksto and I along with some folks from Tuckaseege Baptist Church spent the day in a deserted mill helping it transform.  Inside, the unheated mill building is dark and cold.  Even in the lighted areas you can see darkness in the distance making the building feel huge and yet close; unwelcoming.  The concrete floor sweats in places making the whole place feel damp.  Damp, industrial, dirty, dark, cold… but not unhappy.

There’s love here and it’s slowly burning away the darkness.  Slowly, slowly warming the coldness of the building.  Pieces of it change carefully, slowly.  Light bulbs get changed.  Bathrooms that haven’t been used in years get cleaned and repaired. Offices get refitted with updated furniture. Computers come on. The phones ring again after years of silence.

The phones ring a lot here.  Most of the time they ring with people wanting to help.  Throughout the massive building there’s a happiness that seeps through the place.  It seems to be coming through the walls, oozing in through cracked, sometimes shattered, windows but it’s not.  Most of it is coming from Sheryl Dorsey and a few close associates who are turning this abandoned mill into a shelter for hurting and troubled women.

They have a website.  It’s here. I’ve met them.  I’ve worked with them.  Hard, sweaty, make parts of you hurt, kind of work. If you want to donate, feel free.  I can promise you imagethat they’re doing good with it.  I’ve seen it.  If you want to volunteer, see the website.  They’d love to have you.

As you walk through the building with Ms. Sheryl she tells you her plans for the building.  The dormitory will be there.  The nursery for volunteers here.  Devotional room over where shipping and receiving used to be.  KDM has a poster near the front of the building with the eventual plan for the shelter on it but this woman knows it by heart. As she tells you the story of what the building will become you begin to see it the way that she does.  With love and wonder.  You can’t help it.  As you see it with her you become excited with her.  You want to make her vision happen.

People call and give her things to help.  They call to volunteer.  She talks with folks in the community and takes any donation that they can provide.  Today a group of us were empting a closed down movie rental store because the owner had donated the contents.  Turning the death of a business into a life in the community. 

The things that the shelter can use are kept.  Things that they can’t use are sold at the ministry’s “Penny Thrift” in Stanley NC or traded with other merchants for things that the shelter can use.  All of the money from the thrift shop goes directly into the shelter.

People donate there too.  A couple recently walked into the thrift shop and gave Ms Sheryl five hundred dollars cash for a $30 vase.  They whispered “keep the change” and took their vase home.  Ms Sheryl carefully counted the donation before logging it and tucking it away in the safe.  “My till was a little over that day” she said smiling.  She always seems to be smiling… even when she’s calling you a girly man and encouraging you to work harder…. to make it happen faster.

The whole family attracts like minded folks.  I worked with her daughter’s boyfriend at disassembling the movie store today.  He’s in his mid-20’s and works hard. We spent the day working steadily at our task and trying to keep up with each other.  He always seems to be doing something even when we’re taking a break.  Like Ms Sheryl he’s excited about the work he’s doing and he makes you excited about it too… mostly by just doing the work.  He doesn’t say much but he knows how to work a screwdriver.

About 30 folks from our church joined us in working today. Some at the shelter. A few at the movie store.  We had very different jobs.   We were tearing down… my wife and the others were building up.

When we returned late in the afternoon piles of donated clothes had been sorted and hung neatly on display racks, ready for the thrift store down the street.  Cluttered areas were cleaned up and stacked more neatly.  Donated furniture and computers were moved and sorted.  The place seemed a little more light, just a little, and a little more warm.  This place is slowly becoming The King’s Daughters Ministry (what a cool name) and I got to watch… to help with part of that transformation.

It’s not done yet.  Not a by a long shot.  There’re still months and years to go to get  there.  We’ll be going back to help.  Probably as a group but if not, at least in ones and twos. Maybe, (hopefully) in fours and fives.  Those of us that were touched by the love being poured into this place “can’t not” go back.

I hurt tonight, my wife hurts tonight, but it’s that good kind of hurt.  The kind that reminds you that you made a difference today.  Not a big difference, just a little and just enough for one day.   My parting shot on twitter tonight looks like this:




Penny Thrift store.
The King’s Daughters Ministry

THIS Child…

Folks, please… stop sharing fake grotesque pictures of children on social sites.

Put simply, no one is ever going to donate anything anywhere every time you share an image on a social site.  Not three cents.  Not three dollars,  nothing.

Corporations don’t do that. Especially Facebook.

This morning I created this image with a picture stolen from St. Jude and shared it on my own Facebook.  Feel free to lift it yourself and do the same.


Childhood cancer is serious business and those posts are stealing your attention from a very real threat.  If you really want to help go to and give them the money that they need to make a difference.

So, yeah… reshare that on Facebook.

Quoth Jinksto


Imagine you’re a teen boy.  Imagine that there’s this cute girl in math class that invites you over to her house. 

When you arrive you’re taken out back to meet her family.  They’re cheerful folk and happy to welcome you.  Her dad asks you a few hard questions but you get through them ok.  Things are going well. 

The man sitting next to you is wearing rough work boots and jeans.  He’s got on an old, beat up carhart jacket and has a shaggy beard. His hair is a bit too long and just a little wild under his “Tractor supply” cap.  He’s been staring at you for a while with a hard look.

Suddenly, as if making a decision, he leans over, smiles and introduces himself.

“Son, I’m her uncle.”, he says pointing at your date. 

“I have eight guns, four acres, two shovels and one very, very good friend.”

You stare at him blankly so he continues, “How those two things are related is really up to you.”



I kid you not.

Letters to Friends

This is a document that my wife and I wrote.  It is a collection of letters that were written around the time of our friends’ wedding.  

We wanted to send them a tiny bit of wedding advice fit for folks their ages and it turned into 50 pages or so.

The document title “Letters to Friends, Marriage Advice for Teens (and for the rest of us)” really says it all. 

The advice is unapologetically rooted in Christian values and has a uniquely rural tone.  We hope you like it.

Adults only please…


Download PDF: Leters To Friends PDF Version


If you like the document please feel free to share it with others and comment below.

If you don’t like the document, please feel free to comment below.

For some reason, trackbacks and links aren’t working with this post.  Here are a couple of folks who have mentioned this document on their own blogs.  If I’ve missed you please drop me a mail at and I’ll add you to the list.   Smile

A review from Six Mile Journal:

Comments and expansion of the themes presented by our friends at Will@Home:

My Love

An open letter to the love of my life.  I have long wanted to be able to express these things to her but am unable. I do pretty well sharing on the blog so ya’ll get a free pass for this one.

My Love,

I was thinking last night that I’ve been sending emails to (it seems like) everyone expressing how much I love them this Christmas season and hadn’t bothered to tell you. Of course, I get to tell you every day that I love you but… somehow, it never seems to be enough.

I write well, I communicate less well in person. I get that. I don’t know how to fix it other than to say “I love you” as many times a day as I can so I try that. Still… “I love you” doesn’t really express what I feel for you.

You are my life. My breath. My soul. I tell you that I love you every day and I try to show it in every action but sometimes I feel like it’s not enough. I see you in disbelief. I see you struggle with how someone could love you as much as I do and I think, “How could anyone not?” You are my friend, my lover, my wife and yet… you are more than that to me. I can’t express it, even in writing.

I have loved you from the first moment that I saw you through the window at the shooting range as you played solitaire at Pop’s desk. I was with Daniel that day and I asked him who you were. I loved you that day because I thought you were the most beautiful and perfect woman that I had ever seen. As I grew to know you, as we worked together and had fun together, I loved you because you were smart and capable and fun. Later, I loved you because you have a loving and caring spirit about you. Because you rescue animals and bring them home. Because you saved me from myself. Because you do more than your fair share of work around the house. Because you take care of me every day and in every way. Because you are careful and thoughtful in life. I love you still because you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.

I say sometimes that I would be nothing without you and it is true in so many ways. We have what we do because I have spent my life trying to make you happy. I want more so that I can give you more. I want… I just want for you to be happy in all things. That is not slander. I would be so much less without that dedication and drive. This too you have given me not as a chore but as a gift.

For the last month we have been writing to friends with advice. To be able to share with others my complete love for you has been refreshing and, to a large degree, enlightening. In order to share it properly I have had to understand it more than I ever have. As I thought about how much I love being married to you I wanted to share that with them. To give them the same chance at happiness that I have had. They are not like us and will never be but my vain hope is that someday, somewhere, they will be as happy as I am in life.

I have loved you for every little thing that you are and for all of those things together. I will always love you.

Last week I was talking with Nathan about days that we would like to live through again. In that conversation I said, “If I could relive any time in my life it would be the last month. I am more happy now than I have ever been. God has been good to me.”

That’s what “I love you” means when I throw it at you several times a day every day. That’s what “let’s get naked” means. That’s what all of the other goofy things that I say mean.  I’m truly sorry that I can’t express this better with words. I am sorry that I am unable to whisper these things to you as i hold you. Maybe what I’m trying to say with “I love you” is really simply, “thank you.” Thank you for loving me and yes, thank you for rescuing animals from the gas station… Thank you for all that you are.

I love you.

Christmas in Opulence

In my post “Christmas in Poverty”. I said that we would eat for our Christmas meal those things that we had donated to the local Community Outreach program or CRO. 

We did this not to glorify ourselves but to prove to the kids who celebrate with us that a “feast” isn’t required to have a wonderful Christmas meal.

We had great friends over, we made a meal of the same 9 items that we donated to the CRO.  We never mentioned it again after the blog post on the topic.   We didn’t restrict friends to the same standard.  They brought desserts and things that were made at home to share with our family.  They used whatever they had.  We didn’t make a big deal of it over the meal or in front of the kids.  We just celebrated the birth of Jesus together.

What we discovered was something that I both expected and was surprised by.  We had a wonderful day.  We talked about thousands of things through the day but no one mentioned the food except to tell us that it was wonderful as always.  Folks went back for second helpings of the things they liked.  When we finished the night there were leftovers of everything which we ate the next day.  Just like every Christmas. 

What I didn’t expect to discover by doing this was a comfort.  What I didn’t expect to find was a joy that someone, somewhere, enjoyed a great Christmas meal that we donated.  We know that they had a great meal because we had the same one and it was, without a doubt, fantastic.  It was, against all expectations, a feast in its own right. That lesson is more valuable, I think, than anything that I hoped to teach.  The donation really did make a difference.  Too often we drop a quarter in the Salvation Army bucket and forget where it goes. What good it does.  This year, we know.

The meal was awesome.  We had things that WE didn’t have when we lived in poverty.  We had things that were new to our Christmas table.  Some of them we didn’t like but more because they were different than “substandard” so… yeah. 

The most awesome part of the day for me was the blessing before our meal.  If you’ve read here you know that we sometimes ask the young folks to ask for a blessing at our table but we never allow them to do so over a celebration meal. Those meals are important to me and I want things done right.  Sunday I asked Ms Samantha’s husband to pray over my Christmas table.

They’ve been dating for three years. He’s eaten here many times and asked for blessings at my table several times.  But this one was different.  This one he prayed as a man as he stood holding his new bride’s hand.  His prayer was exactly what was needed and was perfect. It wasn’t quite a “right of passage” but it was special to me and maybe it’ll become a new tradition for us.

As the day wound down will@home and I sat on the patio next to a big fire and talked about another great thing that is happening in my life this week.  We talked about God and how he is moving in our lives.  We talked about the gifts that we’ve been granted. Just two friends, he in an old patio chair wearing a knitted Viking helmet that his wife made and me with my suit put away and wearing just jeans, boots and an old flannel shirt and sitting on cinderblocks near the fire.  As the fire died and the cold seeped in we marveled at the gifts that we’ve been granted.  We talked about what a great Christmas this has been. 

Occasionally our voices would break or quiver just a bit from the joy that we feel in life.  We pretended not to notice or to assume that it was just a chill from the cool evening air.  Men can do that… ignore, pretend.

That’s what Christmas was like for us this year… perfect.  For the fourth time in as many weeks I feel the need to use the word “sublime” in my description of the day.  And it was. Sublime in every way.