Sweet Lorraine


Imagine being married for 75 years.

75 years of good times, hard times, confusing times and well, just about every experience you can imagine. For Fred Stobaugh, being married to his wife Lorraine was the best part of his life:

“That was a wonderful 75 years. I often think I was dreaming or something, but it was real,” Fred Stobaugh said. “She was just the prettiest girl I ever saw. I just fell in love with her right there.”

When Lorraine died Fred was 96 years old and he did something most people his age don’t do…he wrote a song about Lorraine and entered it in a songwriting contest. The Brisbane Courier noted:

“Soon after Lorraine’s death, the Illinois man penned a song in his wife’s memory. He then, on impulse, sent the song into Green Shoe Studio’s singer-songwriter contest after he saw an ad for the competition in a local paper. The content required participants to upload songs onto the internet but Fred just sent the song in on paper and via snail-mail. He also knew that he couldn’t sing a note. At Green Shoe Studios, the song caught the attention of Jacob Colgan, who was so moved by Fred’s tribute that he decided to produce it.”

It is stories like these that our soul longs for…

It is stories like these that remind us that love and commitment are not only possible, but necessary…

It’s stories like these that redeem our understanding of love in a culture that equates love to a sexual impulse rather than the aquifer of all things good, beautiful and true.

Watch the video, you will be glad you did.

A Letter From Fred from Green Shoe Studio on Vimeo.

Empty Nest Tools: Marriage Matters #7


I have noticed an alarming trend in marriage. Couples that have been married for 18 – 20+ years deciding to go their separate ways. We all grew up hearing about the seven-year-itch, but it seems even stranger that a couple would end a marriage after investing that many years into raising their family.

Every couple has the hope and desire for a lasting marriage when they exchange vows. In that moment, no one thinks, “Well, this isn’t going to last.” Rather, the couple begins to dream, plan and build a family life together. When they hold their first child in their arms, rarely is there a thought that this family will not make it.They are ready to sacrifice and work hard to protect what they have.

Raising children is a lot of work…A LOT of work.

Being a parent is a life of sacrifice…(think about all those recitals, soccer games, homework, social events, late nights, doctor visits and financial costs)

Being a parent is a life of frustration…(attitudes, disrespect, lack of problem solving skills, inability to communicate, sibling rivalry, more to-dos than time to do them,)

Being a parent is a life of worry…(from the friends they hang out with to peer pressure, bullying and your stress when they begin driving a car!)

As a parent, it is not until your kids leave the house that you realize how much of the last 18-20+ years have actually been all about raising your kids.

And then…

The house is empty…

You and your spouse look at each other in the stillness of the moment…

No shoes to pick up…

No dishes to gather from every conceivable corner of the house…

No clutter that magically appears right after a room has been cleaned…

No urgent crisis phone call demanding you drop everything to fix their dilemma…

No…it’s just the two of you. The joint adventure of raising a family has left you tired, different, uncertain and curious.

Do you know the person you married anymore?

Has your life become so enmeshed with your kids that you lost the soul-connection with your spouse that started this whole adventure?

Do you even like each other anymore?

Unless you approach your parenting with a long-term plan for your marriage, you might enter the empty nest years thinking that raising kids was a death-sentence on your relationship. Unfortunately, this is what I see happening in so many marriages today. No plan to stay connected and in love during the years of raising kids, and as soon as the kids get to the age where they can take care of themselves, couples are looking for greener marital pastures.

As I have just entered into those empty-nest years with my wife Amy, I am actually excited about what the future holds (I hope Amy is too!) I love my kids and I am proud of who they have become and the journey that they are currently on…but I also love their mom. She has been my best friend for the past 33 years. We are both different now. We both know each other at a far deeper level. We both bear the scars of raising kids in a very challenging age. Yet we both still like hanging out with each other.

Here are a few of my thoughts that can help you transition into the “Empty Nest” years with your marriage intact:

1. Pray Daily For Your Spouse:

I am putting what I believe to be the most important practice to keep your marriage strong at the top. Find time every day to stop and pray for your spouse. If you are mad or angry, praying will begin to break the foothold that bitterness and unforgiveness establishes. Praying helps you move more quickly to a place of forgiveness and reconciliation. Prayer realigns your heart with God so that He is able to reveal things that need to be repented of, or made amends for. Your marriage has many enemies today. To purposefully and consistently pray for your mate is the way to fight for your marriage. I’d recommend three times during the day where you do this: In the morning before the day begins; Lunch time and then before you go to sleep. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. A simple word to God to protect, watch over and keep your hearts knit together is a great place to start. From their, your prayers will expand. If your kids are still young this practice will pave the way for a strong marriage in the empty nest years.

2. Words of Affirmation:

Never stop being the primary encourager and fan of your spouse. If you aren’t, someone else will, and that is where the enemy can gain traction. Every single person that breathes needs to hear things like:

  • I am so proud of you.
  • I love who you are.
  • You are so good at _____________
  • You look hot;awesome;gorgeous;stunning;sexy;handsome;beautiful;_____________
  • I love the way you ________________
  • I know you’ll do a great job at that!
  • I just like being around you.

This list can go on and on but I think you get the point. We are all affirmation-starved people in a world that affirms very little. Each day we are bombarded with 1000’s of messages that say:

  • You are not good enough.
  • You are not pretty enough.
  • You are too fat.
  • You are too thin.
  • You’ll never amount to anything.

Be your spouses best cheerleader and you will move into the empty nest years will anticipation and not dread.

3. Surprise Your Mate:

When you have been raising kids for many years you know that  establishing a routine is crucial to survival. That same routine that helped you survive can also eliminate the spontaneous “spark” that your love-life needs. When was the last time you surprised your spouse with something? When you surprise your mate, they are generally more impressed with the amount of time, energy and thought you invested in them than they are the gift! They feel cared for, loved, appreciated, valued. It doesn’t need to be much, it could be something like:

  • A book you know he/she wants to read.
  • Dinner out, baby-sitter booked, restaurant reserved.
  • A weekend away.
  • A Stay-cation in your house that you cleaned.
  • The dishes, laundry, lawn, project is completed.
  • Book a hotel for your spouse to have a “solitude” break for a night.

4. Never Stop Dating:

This is an important rhythm to establish when your kids are little. If you keep dating in the early years, you will have a great connection in the empty-nest transition. If you are approaching the empty-nest years and haven’t been dating, then it’s time to start! Select a consistent time that works with your schedules and make sure that NOTHING gets in the way of that time. If you have hit the empty-nest years and you haven’t been dating, this can be an awkward reintegration but a fun one!

Start dating as if you have never been out before. Don’t talk about the bills, ask questions about the hopes and dreams that your mate has. Re-meet your spouse. Be attentive. Be romantic.

We tend to take each other for granted when we have been married for 20+ years. While we think we know everything about each other, we really don’t, and the years of raising kids has changed us.

We are different now.

We are trying to figure out who we are, what has changed, and what we have lost as well as what we have gained. So, there is so much to learn about your mate, so go and learn it on a date!

5. Learn his/her Love Language:

If you have not read the best-selling book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, then now is the time to read it. This book, while very simple, has helped thousands upon thousands of couples figure out why they were not really meeting each others needs. When you discover your spouses love language, it becomes a blue print for relationship success (if you actually do what is revealed).  So grab a copy of the book, and use it on your next date night to discover how God wired you and your spouse to receive love. You won’t regret it.

6. Serve Together:

Our church has many opportunities for Amy  and me to serve a greater purpose together. We have helped build teams in Russia, served in Mexico, and more locally, served the poor and marginalized in Seattle through our Urban Mission Team.  When you do something together that serves a greater purpose, you are creating a divine connection with God and your spouse. Perhaps you could volunteer at your local food bank, or tutor at the elementary school your kids used to go to. On your next date, throw some ideas around about what you could do together.

7. Self Differentiate:

The empty nest is also a time for you to rediscover some of those passions that were benched while you helped your children discover theirs. As you get to know yourself better, and become increasingly aware of who you are (and who you are not) give yourself permission to be you…

As you are…

Not what others what or need of you or think you should be…

Who is it that God created you to be that was swallowed up over the past 20 years?

Rediscover that person and give yourself permission to explore.

As you rediscover who God made you to be, share that with your spouse, you will both grow closer  together as you become known.

May your next adventure in the empty-nest be your best!


Your First Christmas As Husband and Wife:

Making the Holidays Fun, Memorable and Stress-Free

The following great article is written by a colleague of mine (Jason Krafsky). It’s focus is on navigating the first holiday season as a newly married couple, but it also speaks to those who have been married for many years as well! Perhaps it will remind you of some of those first awkward moments you had to navigate through :-)   You can check out Jason and what he has to say on his blog:

www.marriagejunkie.com and check out his marriage website: http://www.fullmarriageexperience.com/

May your Christmas season be simple and filled with love!

~Pastor Monty


During marriage prep sessions, I give every engaged couple the same warning when we cover expectations:“when you get married, take control of the holidays or you will feel like the Grinch stole your Christmas!”

The reason? With the first Christmas, too many people have too many competing expectations for the newlyweds.

Both sides of the families want to spend the optimum Christmas Day
time with the couple, brothers and sisters want their now married
sibling to be a part of the family traditions, and the new bride and
groom may even long to take part in many of their own family’s holiday

As if the family expectations aren’t enough, couples also have to
juggle the demand of attending special church services, neighborhood
White Elephants, work holiday parties, decorating for Christmas, and of
course, shopping for presents on a limited budget … there is just too
much to do and too little time to do it!

Come December 26th, the new husband and wife can feel as deflated as Frosty the Snowman without his magic hat on a sunny day.

But don’t fret! Every Christmas story has a happy ending (Santa
invites Rudolph to pull his sleigh, the Peanuts gang find the true
meaning of Christmas, and Ralphie gets his Red Ryder BB gun). And your
Christmas story can too. Here are some tips to ensure your first
holiday season is “merry and bright.”

Decide on Your Holiday Season Festivities – As soon
as possible, discuss what each of you would like to do, experience or
attend over the holiday season. Talk about old family traditions you
want to keep and new rituals you want to start. Do you want to go off
and chop down a tree, pick up a live tree at the local store, or get a
fake tree? Are there Christmas shows,
plays or movies you want to see? You may want to make a list (and check
it twice) of everything you and your mate want to do to celebrate the
Christmas season.

Protect Your “Us” Time – Pull out the December
calendar and mark the dates and times of firm activities (such as the
work holiday party) and reserve times for other activities (such as
visiting relatives and friends). In the midst of all the festivities,
be sure to reserve dates for just the two of you to be together as a
couple. While your time together may or may not involve Christmastime
activities, it is important to protect your “us” time.

Make a Christmas Budget –Nothing adds more stress to a relationship then debt. The fun and frolicking of December gift buying can give way to anxiety and stress in January when the bills start arriving. Set a budget based on what you can afford. Keep in mind that gifts are just one part of the equation. Money is spent on decorations, the tree, Christmas clothes, and Nutcracker tickets, etc. Budget for all of it, and best that you can, stick to it!

kriskringleandwinterwarlockPrepare for Someone’s Feelings to Get Hurt–Now that you know what you need and want to do over the holidays …you need to tell those closest to you what your plans are and how it may affect their expectation for you. This is never easy, especially the first time around, but it is a necessary conversation to have. Because change is never easy, be respectful, listen to their concerns and empathize with how they’re feeling. It may take a little time for them to understand that your choices are pragmatic, not personal.

Keep in mind that every classic holiday story involves a conflict that gets confronted (Kris Kringle deals with Burgermeister and the Winter Warlock; Ebenezer Scrooge faces his past, present and future; and Ralphie stands up to Scut Farkus). In the end, the hero, the villain and everyone in-between benefit from a resulting greater good.

Start Your Own Traditions – A marriage is the conceiving of a new family with the continuation of old traditions and the making of new ones. Since you are a new family (that will likely grow in size in the years to come), create traditions that are your own. Whether it’s buying an annual personalized tree ornaments
watching a recent or classic Christmas movie, attending a special Christmas event, or serving the needy during the holidays, this is the time to launch new traditions that are uniquely yours.

grandma-got-run-over-by-reindeer-dvd-cover-artDon’t Try to Cram Too Much Family Into Too Little Time –I’ve seen some post-Christmas newlyweds who look like the grandma who “got run over by a reindeer”. Because everyone wanted to see the newlywed couple “on Christmas Day”, the poor couple shuttled around from her parents place to his dad’s apartment to his mom and stepfather’s house. The couple spends more time in the car then with people. And when it comes time to leave, they get guilt tripped about how little time there was to spend together.

To avoid this chaotic guest appearance schedule, spread out the traveling, the visiting and the various Christmas celebrations over the course of days rather then hours. Each year, swap which side of the family gets you on Christmas Day, Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas. By taking a step towards sanity, everyone will benefit.

Being Santa’s Little Helper Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful–One of the self-inflicted stressers couples put on themselves (not to be sexist here but it is usually the wife) is to find the “perfect” Christmas present. It’s really doesn’t have to be that complicated. Here’s some links to some pretty cool gift ideas. There’s something for everyone on a range of budgets.

Get a gift that…

*Captures memories all year around with a Video or Digital Camera

*Helps you communicate better with a Smart Phone, iPhone or Cell Phone

*Reflects the strength of your love with Special Jewelry and Bling

*Keeps the honeymoon going and going with Christmas Sleepwear for Him and Her

*Makes your house a home with Personalized Home Decorations

*Directs you to the right place every time with Precise and Exact Coordinates

*Allows you to burn some calories with Activities for Both of You

Reflect on Your First Year and Plan for the Year Ahead

Spend some time looking back on your life together since the wedding. What has surprised you the most? What has the transition to married
life been like? How do you think the rest of your first year will go, and why? With Christmas being so close to the start of the New Year, make some resolutions for your relationship. Commit to read a marriage book together, attend a marriage conference, or download a podcast of a
relationship speaker. Do something in the upcoming year to invest in the health and quality of your relationship.

Remember What Christmas is All About

In the midst of the lights, the eggnog lattes and the familiar songs about snow and chestnuts, take some time to read the original Christmas story in the Bible (Luke 2). Read Matthew 1 and 2, and Luke 1 to get a broader perspective before and during the time of Jesus’ birth. Look at the
story from the perspective of a couple and talk about the relationship of Mary and Joseph and what they may have been going through during
this significant moment in history.

jesus-in-the-mangerWhile the holiday season is a jumble of memories, traditions, expectations and experiences, we shouldn’t lose sight that Christmas is about celebrating God’s greatest gift to mankind: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Your first Christmas together as husband and wife should be nothing short of fun, memorable and stress-free. And it can be if you take control of it.


K. Jason Krafsky is the author of Before “I Do” – Preparing for the Full Marriage Experience (Turn the Tide Resource Group –www.FullMarriageExperience.com).
As a marriage junkie, Jason supports his habit by training leaders on
marriage issues, writing articles and books on marriage and family
relationships, coaching communities, churches, and ministries on
marriage strengthening strategies, and teaching couples about
relationship issues (check out his blog at www.MarriageJunkie.com).
Jason’s ultimate fix comes from his wife Kelli. They live in the
foothills of Washington’s Cascade Mountains with their four children.
Contact him at kjasonk@fullmarriageexperience.com, MySpace (marriagejunkie), or Facebook.

Copyright © 2008 by K. Jason Krafsky – Permission granted to use and reproduce with proper source citation.

Tips From Worlds Longest Married Couple! Marriage Matters #5

I  came across this article on the Daily Mail UK web site and thought it was worth sharing! Imagine being married for 87 years! That’s how longs this couple has been married. It’s a great interview and they share their longevity tips…MC


To have and to hold … for 87 years! World’s longest married couple share their secrets to living happily ever after

  • Karam, 107, and Katari, 100, have been married for 87 years
  • They have 8 children and 28 grandchildren together
  • The marriage is almost 5 years longer than current Guinness record holders
  • Couple say that laughter and looking after each other is key to marriage


In an age where few marriages endure the test of time, 107-year-old Karam and his wife Katari Chand, 100, are proof that happy ever after does exist.

The couple, who have eight children and twenty eight grandchildren together, have lived in wedded bliss for 87 years making them the world’s longest married couple.

The pair say that the key to success is looking after each other in every way possible: ‘My trick is to make Katari laugh. I like to tell jokes and make her smile. Being funny is my way of being romantic.’ says Karam.

Karam and Katari Chand have been married for 87 years and are in the process of being confirmed as Guinness World Record holders for the world's longest marriageKaram and Katari Chand have been married for 87 years and are in the process of being confirmed as Guinness World Record holders for the world’s longest marriage

‘I have been told laughing makes you live longer… my wife is still alive so it must have worked! I love her so much and I want to spend another 80 years by her side,’ said Karam.

From romantic meals to sharing jokes, the couple, who hail from Punjab, India and now live in Bradford ensure that they do little things for each other to keep the romance alive.

Katari told romantic networking site Zoosk.co.uk: ‘When I was young I used to make him a nice fresh meal every night. We are vegetarian so I brought lots of fresh vegetables and made sure he was eating healthy food.

‘Health is very important and I wanted to look after him so we could grow old together. Some would say it has worked!

The couple, who are both over 100, have eight children and twenty eight grandchildren togetherThe couple, who are both over 100, have eight children and twenty eight grandchildren together

‘Oh and how can I forget, I always save a bit of my chapatti for him. Just a little gesture that he appreciated a lot and it kept me a bit slimmer.’

Karam, who likes to do a word search every day to keep his mind alive, believes that spending plenty of time together has helped their marriage last.

‘We have not spent any long span apart in over 50 years. We go everywhere together – up until a few years ago we went to India every year with the family and for all family weddings we make sure we get to stay together,’ he said.

They maintain that the key to standing the test of time in marriage is looking after each other in every way possibleThey maintain that the key to standing the test of time in marriage is looking after each other in every way possible

Their marriage has lasted nearly five years longer than that of the current Guinness World Record holders and the couple are in the process of getting confirmation from the company that they will be named as the new record holders.

Many modern day romances fail to stand the test of time but longevity and experience makes Karam the best man to go to for relationship advice.

‘In the past people used to listen. Now I don’t think people take the time to listen to each other properly. People seem too busy today with work, TV and other stuff going on around them.

‘Relationships are about understanding one another and listening to concerns and problems, so my advice to men and women is to listen to their partners, show interest in what they are saying and help them overcome any worries or problems they are going through,’ he said.

Karam and Katari Chand received a certificate of achievement from dating site Zoosk
The couple love to make each other laugh and will have a joint birthday celebration in November

The couple love to make each other laugh and will have a joint birthday celebration in November

And their son Satpaul, who is extremely proud of his parent’s relationship, added his own words of wisdom.

He said: ‘One piece of advice that I can’t stress enough is to keep your parents very close. We live with them in Bradford and look after them because we want to help them live as long as they can together.

‘I don’t want to see their love story end. I truly believe that by helping them over the last few years we have enabled them to enjoy their time together with no stress and being looked after.

‘Also, you have to value them while they are here because you never know how long they are going to be around for.’

The still loved-up couple, who met through an arranged marriage, are having a big party in November to celebrate Karam’s 107th and Katari’s 100th birthday. The Mayor of Bradford as well as lots of community members will be joining in the festivities.


  • Always be faithful: always be faithful to one another. When you get married you commit to devoting your life to that person and even when the times are tough, don’t believe that the grass is greener…because it isn’t.
  • Look after each other as best you can: if you want to grow old with your partner you have to make sure you always look after each other in every shape and form. Whether it is making a meal, holding your partners hand when crossing the road or being a shoulder to cry on when something goes wrong.
  • Be tolerant of each other: everyone has bad habits or annoying traits. Whether it is leaving a towel on the floor or listening to the radio too loudly, you have to tolerate each other and realise that no one is perfect. Of course we irritate each other occasionally, but if you want to last nearly 90 years, learn to love bad habits or it won’t work.
  • Listen to each other: the most important thing in a relationship is to listen. People don’t listen anymore because they are too busy with work and TV. Listen to your loved ones’ problems and concerns every day, because then you can help them overcome them and be happier. Also, it brings you closer together because you are the first port of call for each other when there is an issue in your life.
  • Follow social and religious values: always make sure you follow social or religious values. Respect, care, cherish, love and value your partner – always treat them how you would want to be treated yourself.