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You can sign up for the FREE No More Perfect Marriages eChallenge by clicking the graphic! 

Looking to pick up a book? You can find that here!

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Looking for our No More Perfect Marriages 10 Day Blog series on how we restored our marriage after infidelity?  You’ll find that here!

Can Kindness Change A Marriage?

Marriage Monday

Mark: Jill and I have begun the behind-the-scenes work for our new No More Perfect Date Night site.  This new resource–coming in late April–will allow you invest in your marriage without hiring a sitter or leaving your house! More info to come!)  One of the things we’re doing is interviewing couples, authors, specialists in marriage to provide insight, knowledge, and honest discussion about the real stuff of marriage.

Jill: This past Saturday, we had the privilege of talking with Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn about the power of kindness in marriage. The conversation was so good!  It was challenging to both Mark and I in so many ways!

Mark: Jeff shared a story about a time when he was angry with Shaunti. He was feeding his anger with negative thoughts about her that he happened to be journaling . Then he stopped himself, re-reading his words and experiencing a sense of conviction. Even in the midst of his frustration, he began to think about all the good things Shaunti brings to his life, how well she takes care of their family, and all the good qualities she has.

Jill: He began to “push his thoughts” in the right direction. In time, he actually changed his feelings about Shaunti. That experience planted the seeds for years of research on the power of kindness which resulted in Shaunti’s new book The Kindness Challenge: Thirty Days to Change Any Relationship.

Mark: Jeff and Shaunti challenge us to pick one person that drives you crazy (one of your kids, your mother-in-law, a neighbor, or your spouse!) and for thirty days do these three things:

  • Say nothing negative about your person, either to them or to someone else.
  • Every day, find one positive thing that you can sincerely raise or affirm about your person and tell them, and tell someone else.
  • Every day, do a small act of kindness or generosity for your person.

Jill: A challenge like this helps us live out Philippians 4:8,  “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

When we fuel our negative thoughts about our spouse, we sabotage how we feel about him or her. When we intentionally focus on the positive and extend intentional acts of kindness, we actually increase our satisfaction in the relationship!  There are some powerful principles there for marriage!

Mark: This is exactly what happened to me when I recommitted to our marriage. I stopped fueling the negative thoughts and started focusing on Jill’s positive qualities. In time I even had trouble remembering what my issues with her even were!

Jill: So today we encourage you to feed the positive and starve the negative when it comes to your marriage. And if you’re looking for some extra encouragement along the way, register for one of the 2017 Hearts at Home conferences where Shaunti will be keynoting about the power of kindness, or pick up a copy of her book. Small++++++++, but powerful, kindness can be a gamechanger in your marriage.

Sunrise Sunset

Last night I had hoped to make a trip to Springfield to be at our granddaughter’s school concert but I just didn’t have the energy for the two hour round trip after my second shoulder surgery on Tuesday (I had developed adhesions after my first rotator cuff repair in December and didn’t have a good range of motion…this surgery took care of that.)

When my son suggested he and I go to a local performance of Fiddler on the Roof that his fiance had choreographed, I took him up on the offer.  I love Fiddler on the Roof.  In high school, I played the role of Hodel and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Austin asked me what it is that I love about the musical and as I thought about it, I concluded that it is it’s timelessness. While the story is set in 1905, the issues that Tevye and Golde deal with are today’s issues: children growing up too fast, cultural changes that affect the family, letting go, watching adult children make choices you don’t agree with, community, marriage, faith, hope, and love.

With my man-boy sitting next to me approaching college graduation and a wedding–both in December–I was drawn into the words of the Sunrise, Sunset song that Tevye and Golde sing, “”When did she get to be a beauty? When did he grow to be so tall? Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?”

So today I’m sentimental. Pensive. And reminded that parents through the ages have faced the same challenges we face today.

Letting go is never easy, but always necessary.

Why Did I Get Married?

Marriage Monday

Mark: Jill and I were talking about marriage the other day with some friends.  He said, “You know I think most of us get married for the wrong reason.”  I asked him to explain.

Jill: He went on to say that if we’re honest most of us get married to have our needs met. Deep down we believe this person will do that. Initially, it may seem that he or she does meet our needs. Over time, however, when life begins to be more predictable and routine, it often feels like we no longer are getting our needs met.

Mark: That’s when we either bail on the relationship or dig deeper to see if there is a bigger reason for marriage.  As we talked with our friends two of those reasons came to mind:

  • To serve. We get married to bring kindness, joy, companionship, help, a servant heart, and sacrifice to our loved one. The Bible talks about this “mutual submission” in Ephesians 5:22-23. When we get married, we’re usually looking out for number one (me).  Unknowingly, we even bring needs that weren’t met in childhood into our marriage. Instead of looking to have our needs met, we need to be looking at how we can serve our spouse.
  • To grow. When we get married our sin nature rises to the top. Selfishness, pride, control, deceit, and other actions that protect “me” and watch out for “me” make an appearance. It isn’t easy to live under the same roof with someone so different. It isn’t easy to compromise. It isn’t easy to sacrifice your wants and desires to accommodate your spouse’s wants and desire.

Jill:  When it comes to needs in our marriage, too often we’re expecting a spouse to fill needs that only God can fill. Our expectations might appear genuine but with a closer look we’ll discover they actually aren’t. We end up putting so much pressure upon our spouses and each of us end up discouraged and disappointed.

Mark: Jill sure did feel that from me. I placed so much pressure upon her to fill my love tank, to want sex more, to be different than she was, and honestly to be what I wanted her to be. She really began to feel that she could never be enough.

Jill: That is how I felt. I was actually making an effort to do many of the things Mark desired but it was never enough. Mark was expecting me to fill his needs and cravings that only God could fill.

Mark:  It wasn’t until I genuinely surrendered and did a U-turn in my head and my heart that everything between us began to change. Jill could be herself and I could be me. Wow was that a time of transformation!

Jill: So today, we bring these questions to you: Why did you get married? Was it for the wrong reason?

Mark: Can you see how God wants us to use marriage to serve and to grow?  If you’re even considering bailing, can we ask you to instead dig deeper and examine what’s driving your discontent?

Jill: Oh and one more thing, Mark and I recently talked with Dr. Gary Chapman (author of The Five Love Languages) about all things marriage. If you, or you and your spouse, would like to listen to the conversation, you can do that here.

I’d Love For You To Join Me!

One of the best parts of what I get to do as a speaker is meet so many wonderful people. January and February have been quiet months for us. It was a perfect window of time for me to rotator cuff repair surgery.  Unfortunately my body seems to scar internally a little too much and I have to have a second shoulder surgery on March 7 to return me to full use of my shoulder.  Thankfully the recovery from the second surgery isn’t nearly as difficult as from the first surgery.

That’s a good thing because speaking season is kicking in!  I’m going to be in Indiana, Chicago, Missouri, Peoria, and Texas. If you’re close by, I’d love for you to join the fun! Here are the events that are open to the public:

Wednesday, March 1–Lafayette, IN
MOPS, First Assembly Community Ministries–“Is There Really Sex After Kids?”
More info: http://firstag.org/mops/

Saturday, March 18–Woodridge, IL
No More Perfect Marriages Morning Out (Jill and Mark Savage speaking)
More info: www.imetevents.org

Tuesday, March 28, Oronogo, MO
Moms Connection–More info: http://cco.church/adults/#women

Friday/Saturday, April 21-22, Peoria, IL
Hearts at Home Mom Conference
Mark and I are speaking together and separately!
More info: https://www.heartsathome.org/index.php/events/2017-illinois-conference

Friday/Saturday, May 5-6, Tyler, TX
Marriage Tune-Up–No More Perfect Marriages (info below)


























Would your church like to host a No More Perfect Marriages retreat? Do you have a women’s event or retreat you’re looking for a speaker for?  We’d love to partner with you! Find out more info here!

My Secret Weapon When Traveling With Kids

It doesn’t matter if you’re driving across town or taking a long road trip to Grandma’s house, every parent needs a secret weapon for those moments when the little ones are fussy.

When my kids were younger, my secret weapon was bubbles. In the car. Using the air vents.

Now that I’m a Nana, I once again have my car stocked with bubbles.

Here’s a video showing you just what I do!

Don’t Sacrifice Your Marriage on the Altar of Efficiency

Marriage Monday

Jill: In most marriages, one partner is more “efficient” than the other. One of you thinks about how to do things quickly, swiftly, more intentionally. In our marriage that would be me.

Mark: I meander through life. I get from point A to point B but if I do it one way on Monday and a different way on Tuesday, that’s no big deal to me. However, once Jill determines the most efficient way to do things, she will never do it a different way.

Jill: In the early years of marriage, this was most evident when we were driving somewhere. When I get in a car, I immediately think about the most efficient way to get where we are going. This would be the way with the least number of stoplights, left turns, and slow speed limits.

Mark: My brain just doesn’t even go there. I didn’t even know that some people thought about that kind of stuff until Jill became a part of my life.

Jill: It doesn’t show up just with driving, but also with things like bathing the kids, making meals, and accomplishing tasks. Mark does all those things slower and without much strategy….it appears to me.

Mark: I am strategic…just not nearly to the degree that Jill is. Apparently Jill isn’t the only one who thinks this way because many years ago at a Hearts at Home conference, Liz Curtis Higgs shared a story about riding in a car when her husband was driving. When they pulled into a parking lot, he would say, “Why don’t you just tell me where to park, I know you’ve already picked out a spot.”

Jill: I remember Liz sharing that story and it stepping on my toes a bit. Then it was several years later when a dear friend challenged me on my frustrations with this in our relationship. She said, “Jill, don’t sacrifice your marriage on the altar of efficiency.”  Wow! That was a very powerful statement and God used it to catch my attention.  I began, over time, to allow Mark to be Mark and to let my desire for efficiency to fall by the wayside. It wasn’t easy, but it was important.

Mark: Because I better understand Jill and how her brain thinks, I try to be a little more intentional about strategy and about communicating my strategy.  So she’s letting me be me and I’m letting her be her. We’re not trying to change each other, but instead trying to honor each other.

What about you? Are you sacrificing your marriage on the altar of efficiency? Do you need to honor your spouse instead of trying to change him or her? 

Why We Never Put Money In the Offering Plate At Church

When I was in late grade school and junior high my father served as the church treasurer for the little United Methodist Church we attended. One of his jobs as the treasurer was to count the offering and prepare it to be deposited at the bank.

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday afternoon was to help him count the money and prepare the deposit. Little did I realize that I was learning an early lesson on tithing. Not only did I see the giving of others, I also saw my father write out a check of a pre-determined amount–based upon his pay–for our family’s offering.

The Bible talks about giving our “first fruits” to God. Back in Bible days that would have meant bringing the first and best grain, wine, oil, honey, livestock, and produce as an offering to God.  Today, in our cash society, we primarily think of tithing as a money offering.  A tithe is giving 10% back to God from whatever He gave to us through income, gifts, and other earning possibilities.  An offering, in many churches, is considered anything over and above a tithe.

Back when I was a little girl, the only way you “gave” was when the offering plate was passed on Sunday morning. Today, many churches now offer online giving, EFT (electronic funds transfer), app giving, or text-to-give. With online bill pay, some folks choose to automate their giving through online banking. In fact, Mark and I started automating our tithe many years ago when we started paying our bills–and sending our tithe–online through our bank’s website.

Thus why we never put money in the offering plate.

Without forethought and an advanced decision, honestly God could easily get our leftovers instead of our first fruits. I don’t know about you, but we always find a way to spend all of the money we have in hand. However, when we have recurring transfers set up for payday for our tithe and savings, we then become accustomed to living off what is left.

Yes, there have been many times when we’ve had a car repair, a medical bill, or another unexpected expense (really, are medical bills and car repairs unexpected though????) that we’ve been tempted to not tithe and pay that bill instead. It’s the human response!

However, what we’ve found is that when we put God first, He provides in ways we could never have imagined. Sometimes it’s an unexpected refund check because we somehow overpaid car insurance or a medical bill. Sometimes something we’ve had listed online sells. Sometimes it’s a side job someone asks Mark to do and we get a little extra financial gift!  We never know how it’s going to happen, we just have come to trust that God will take care of us. Proverbs 3: 9-10 reminds us to “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.”

Of course, the plenty–the blessing–isn’t always financial. God gives to us in many ways including joy, relationships, contentment, and hope. We don’t know how He will choose to work…we just know He will!

Want to watch God work first-hand? Put Him first with your finances. Make an intentional, advance, generous decision of what you will give to God every time He gives (income) to you.

Whether we write out that check every payday to drop in the offering plate or automatically send it through online bill pay, or give through the church’s app or website, what’s most important is that God gets our best!

What about you? How do you make sure God doesn’t just get your leftovers?