A Prayer for Oneness In Our Marriage {with free printable}

A Prayer for Oneness in Your Marriage

John and I have been married for 46 years.

We have five grown kids-all married and 21 grandchildren. Yes, this still shocks me!

The greatest desire of my heart, and probably yours too, is that my kids will love the Lord and each other. I long for this passion to continue throughout generations to come.

However, I know this will take a lot of prayer, a lot of forgiveness, and a lot of God’s grace.

Every Tuesday I focus on praying for our six marriages (5 married kids, plus me and John =12 people. Now, that’s higher math!).

Here’s a page from my prayer journal for Tuesdays:

Dear Father,

You have called all 12 of us into marriage. It was your creation that you might be glorified by it. Lord, please be protecting our unions.

Give to each of us:

A sweetness of speech

A desire to work through struggles and stick to it when we are tempted to flee

Eyes only for each other

A desire to serve the other

The discipline to quickly forgive and to ask for forgiveness

A sense of how we are fitting together-us two being better than one.

The willingness to really listen and consider the other’s view instead of “presuming”

A growing thankfulness for one another

A time to pray together

A time to laugh

Deliver us from:

Taking one another for granted

Failing to appreciate or to build up

Wandering eyes

Emotional divorce

From those who would tear apart our marriage

From work overtaking relationships


Keep adding layers and layers of glue into our unions and molding us into oneness.


My list isn’t “done.” It’s always changing because we’ll always need His grace and power to keep growing in our marriages!

A Prayer for Oneness in Our Marriage Printable


To download the free printable of the prayer, simply click the link below: 

A Prayer for Oneness in Our Marriage

Blessings on you and your marriage,


*You can read more about Susan’s simple, but Powerful Prayer Plan HERE.

John and Susan Yates Family
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A Prayer for My Son’s Someday Bride-to-Be

A Prayer for Our Son's Someday Bride

I can tell you the exact moment I began praying for our son’s future wife.

Maybe not the month.

Or even the year.

But definitely the moment.

I’m sure there must have been a context of some kind, but most of those details have faded and now all I can remember are the words that he said.

“I want the kind of wife who would be able to pull an arrow out of my back. That kind of woman.”

He was only 11 or 12 years old at the time, so why he would be thinking such thoughts I’ll never know.

All I know is that it stopped my mama’s heart.

This brought up so many questions I wanted to ask him. Starting with, “Why, Son? Why an arrow?” Then, “Why would it be in your back?” and “Who would do such a thing?” and so on.

And finally, “Where in the world do you get these ideas from??”

It was our first conversation about his someday wife.

But it wouldn’t be our last.

We’ve a had a number of discussions since that time and they’ve all been interesting and insightful. I’ve appreciated hearing his perspective as a young man living in the current culture. It can’t be easy and it’s nice to know that he takes it seriously.

Of all the things he’s said during these discussions,  my personal favorite was when I told him how badly I wanted a good relationship with his future wife – whoever she ended up being – and how I was a little afraid of what she might think of me.

I confided, “I really hope your wife will like me and that maybe we’ll even become friends.”

He was young and answered me briefly, almost fiercely, “She’d better like you, mom.” Sounding nearly like a threat.

I believe that was one of the highest compliments he ever gave me. And I tucked that one deep down into my heart.

Now our son will soon be graduating from college and he no longer talks about arrows. He lives across the country and we only get to see him once or twice a year. But we talk and Skype often and I’m grateful for the man he’s become.

This same son was recently in a good friend’s wedding, having enjoyed a close friendship with both the bride and the groom. As the best man, he offered the newlywed couple the following blessing after the cutting of the cake:

Dostoevsky wrote, “beauty will save the world” and, whether or not he realized it, truer words could not have been spoken. The story of the Gospel and God’s love for us contains the greatest beauty of all.

In the same way that marriage is meant to reflect God’s relationship with his Church, I believe that your relationship has always been – and always will be – one of beauty, filled with goodness and truth.

As long as the two of you are in the world, the rest of us have hope and your many kids will have a chance to grow up loving and seeking the Lord.

And I’ve been thinking a lot about the words he shared. Because this really is how Christian marriage is designed to be—a relationship filled with beauty, goodness, and truth – and how desperately the world needs to see more of this kind of love. Actually, we could all use this kind of hope right now.

And so I continue to pray for his someday wife. 

A Prayer For My Son's Someday Bride

The newlywed couple, with our son on the right

A Prayer for Our Son’s Someday Bride-to-Be

I pray that she will be full of beauty and kindness and wisdom.

I pray that she will be soft in heart and strong in spirit.

I pray that she will laugh at his jokes, put up with his teasing, and carefully listen to his deepest thoughts.

I pray that they will stay up late whispering their dreams and sharing their ideas.

And that the two of them will wake up in the morning as much in love as ever.

I pray that it will only be the beginning of a lifelong friendship between them both.

I pray God is even now preparing her to be his wife, just as I know He has been preparing our son to be a husband.

I pray that she’ll understand what it is to receive forgiveness. And be ready to forgive in return.

I pray that she will lovingly respect him and that he will cherish her always.

And, as much as I hope that she will be crazy-in-love with our son, I pray that she will love Christ even more.

And, yes, I pray that she will be able to pull an arrow out of his back.

But can’t help hoping that she will never need to.

Above all, I pray that their relationship will be one of beauty – filled with goodness and truth. A reflection of God’s love for His Bride.


In my prayers,
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9 Tips to Make This The Best Thanksgiving Ever

9 Tips to Make This The Best Thanksgiving EverWant to make this the best Thanksgiving ever?

Me too! And I’ve picked up on a number of tips that make a big difference in celebrating that day and I’d love to share them with you.

But before I get there, I feel you should know a few things.

About Thanksgiving.

And me.

You should probably know that I’ve experienced some very disastrous Thanksgiving celebrations. 

As in really, really bad ones.

Like my first year as a new bride and I tried to serve our guests from Ethiopia “an authentic American Thanksgiving.”

Who happened to be Orthodox Christians.

Who can’t eat turkey (not kosher). Or green beans (made with bacon). But who graciously enjoyed what side dishes they could.

I felt simply terrible. 

We ate a lot of mashed potatoes that year. 

Or like the year when all our guests starting arriving and I did a last minute check on the turkey in the oven. Only to find that my oven had decided to quit that day (oh, why?) and I pulled out a totally raw turkey.

Not good, my friends.

We nibbled on cold-cuts that year.

Or the year that we invited 50 people over for a grand Thanksgiving celebration . . . and our entire family woke up that morning with the stomach flu.

Everyone. Everywhere.

Picture 10 people all …. No, never mind. Don’t even try to picture it. Ick.

We didn’t eat anything  on Thanksgiving that year. 

And this lady is going to share tips on how to have a lovely Thanksgiving celebration?? 

Good point.

Okay, it’s true: we’ve had some pretty rough years.  But we’ve enjoyed many wonderful ones too and I really did learn some terrific tips along the way.

So are you ready for them?

12 Thanksgiving Tips to Make for The Best Thanksgiving Ever

9 Thanksgiving Tips

1.     Cook the turkey ahead of time.

Now don’t gasp. You have to believe me because this is the BEST tip of the day. I realize it’s hard to let go of the traditional presentation of the whole turkey, but you’ll be so glad you did when you hear all the benefits. This tip alone reduces your stress 50% and makes everything so much easier.

I’m telling you, it’s a marvelous thing!

Now if you’re ready to go gourmet with me . . . 

Pomegranate Glazed Turkey

2.     Try out this stunning dish: Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Turkey.

Does that sound amazing or what?? So go ahead. Wow them all.  (And it’s surprisingly simple!) You can find the recipe here from Catz In The Kitchen:  Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Turkey.

3.     Make the mashed potatoes the day before.

I know…similar theme to the first one. But you can even make them the DAY before. And here’s an added benefit: it creates even better mashed potatoes! Yep. Totally serious. Put them in your crockpot on low that morning and it makes for the creamiest, dreamiest mashed potatoes!

People will want to know your “secret” – and it’s up to you whether you tell them or not.

Tips for Thanksgiving

4.    Let everyone contribute to the meal.

If we have guests (and we nearly always do), I invite them to bring a part of the meal.  I will usually “assign” them a dish or two that I know will fill in the meal nicely—usually a side dish and a dessert. But even if it’s “just” family, we all pitch in together.

Bottom line: Never, ever try to do the entire meal yourself. It’s just not how it was meant to be.

Now for those who are starting to wonder: If she cooked the turkey and the mashed potatoes ahead of time AND her guests are bringing the other dishes…..What exactly is she doing on Thanksgiving Day? 


I am actually enjoying Thanksgiving Day! Yay!! 


5.  So then you’ll have time to read this beautiful book with your family.

Thanksgiving – A Time to Remember by Barbara RaineyI can’t tell you how gorgeous this FamilyLife book is! It’s a wonderful read aloud for your children and so lovely you’ll want it out on your table all year ’round. PLUS it includes a CD with 16 (instrumental only) hymns and songs for nice background music. Consider this an official “rave” from me. Available HERE.

Thanksgiving by Barbara Rainey

6.     Let the Kids Help Decorate.

If you have children, then this can be a very delightful part of the day. Even when our children were younger, they would make place-cards for each guest and color them with cute pictures of turkeys or pumpkins. I usually reserved one table for “grown-up” decorations, but I let our kids have at it everywhere else and their creative touches were always a big hit!

12 Tips for Thanksgiving

7.     Plan Games for the Young People.

Once again, I have my daughters to thank for this one. Have you ever noticed that there’s just not that much for kids to do on Thanksgiving? I mean, other than eat? So we’ve put together all kinds of games and activities—the pumpkin toss, bob-for-apples, card tournaments, and, our annual tradition, a little skeet-shooting (although this isn’t for everyone).

Oh, and I should mention, while I specified “young people,” all ages have entered into the fun and festivities! Not just for kids. 😉

Tips for Thanksgiving

8.     Open Your Home and Table to Others In Need.

This one is my husband’s strong suit. He is always on the look-out for anyone who doesn’t have anywhere to go on Thanksgiving. Widows. Orphans. The estranged. Travelers. Families who’ve left their homes in other countries.

They are all welcome at our table.

We hope it blesses them and I KNOW it blesses us. We’ve made some lovely friendships over our table that have lasted long past Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving from Ever Thine Home

9.     Share that for which we are truly thankful.

So maybe you think that this is obvious.

Perhaps it should be . . . but it’s not.

Countless people gather every year for “Thanksgiving” and never get around to actually giving thanks.  And I’m not simply talking about a short prayer before the meal begins. I mean sincerely and abundantly offering a word of thanks for all God has done for us.

So let’s make sure this is an essential part of our celebration.

Giving Thanks by Ever Thine Home

One creative way to do this is by wrapping these charming Ribbon-Ties around each place setting.

I was recently at a dinner event where these were placed at every table and I just love this idea! Each one has a different question to consider and could encourage even the most reticent of guests to contribute to a conversation centering around thankfulness! These (reusable) Gratitude Ribbon-Ties can be found HERE. 

Giving Thanks by Ever Thine Home

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever. ~ Psalm 136:1

So now from my home to yours . . . I hope you enjoy the best Thanksgiving this year.

Best ever. 

*How about you? What other helpful tips would you add to my list here? I love hearing your ideas!

With thanks for you,

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*If you purchase any of the Ever Thine Home products through the links here, I get a small affiliate compensation – with no additional cost to you – and so I thank you for that. But while I appreciate your purchase, you should also know that I share this as my genuine opinion and personal enthusiasm for these items. See my full disclosure here.

Why Do I Get So Annoyed at That Man?

Why Do I Get So Annoyed With That ManHere in Montana, November means the men put on camouflage and spend a week hunting.

But do you know what hunting has always meant for me? No cooking dinner, doing some fun project, and maybe a splurge to go shopping. So I’ve always waved goodbye to the men and have tried to look sad.

“I’ll miss you!” (Take your time –an extra day if you need to.)

Matt and his brother loaded up rifles, camouflage, and Skittles (gotta know what’s important) yesterday and headed out the door. On my way home from school I felt giddy about the wonderful girl evening that lay ahead of me.

Then my phone rang.

“Hey hon,” Matt said.

I shouldn’t have been hearing from him at 3:30 in the afternoon. He had promised me they’d be out until dark.

“We came in early to pack up and head out to eastern Montana, but the weather doesn’t look favorable in those places,” he said. “So we’re just going to do local day hunts this week.”

Plans changed.

Man at home. Worst of all? He was going to need dinner.

I was disappointed, but I had just been reading Paul David Tripp’s book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand, and a chapter about what causes chaos in relationships. Tripp brought this verse to my attention:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.  (James 4:1 ESV)

Those “passions” refer to our desires for pleasure. Tripp says:

The problem with desire is that in sinners it very quickly morphs into demand…Demand is the closing of my fists over a desire…The morphing of my desire changes my relationship to others. Now I enter the room loaded with a silent demand: You must help me get what I want. If you are an obstacle, I will immediately be angry and impatient with you.

So I recognized that I desired my girl evening, and in the past I had closed my fists over this desire.

But I decided to listen to what the Lord had been teaching me, as I had been thinking about the verse from James over the last few days. I asked the Lord to help me set down my desires, and I internally gave the evening to my husband.

I went to Cabela’s and bought Matt some new hunting boots because his were breaking down, stopped and grabbed fish-n-chips from Applebee’s, and later went back to Cabela’s to exchange the boots that were too big.

And I did it all with a happy heart. That is no small work of God in me.

Because there have been other years when Matt has come home early from hunting, and I have chosen to punish him for ruining my expectations. I’ve chosen wordless pouting and grumpiness instead of welcoming the poor man home, proving that my desire for a girl’s night was more important to me than loving him.

“I thought you would be upset that I came home early,” he told me later last night. “Usually you get upset.”

“I’m growing up,” I said.

Why Do I Get So Annoyed With That Man?


So I have two kinds of encouragement for you.

First, keep an eye out for your desires for pleasure that could easily become more important to you than loving God or loving the people in your life.

Second, I want to point out that time and again my marriage has gotten better because I have been reading the Bible and have chosen to obey what I’ve found there. God’s truth is the source of change.

Being a happy wife starts in our own hearts.


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The Words Your Child Is Longing to Hear

The Words Your Child Is Longing to HearI grew up with a Dad who was both physically and verbally affectionate.

A quiet man by nature, he was in my child’s eyes a rock of security.

Firm with discipline, yet generous in love.

I was the eldest of four strong-willed kids and I was tough to raise—bossy, opinionated, sassy, and frequently in trouble.

Once I shot a neighborhood boy with a friend’s “bb gun” simply because I didn’t like him!

I was furious with my Mom when she came home from the hospital with a second brother and would not speak to her for days because I didn’t like the first brother who had usurped my position as “only child” at age four. A few years later Mom redeemed herself by giving me a sister.

I’m not quite sure how Mom and Dad survived those tumultuous early years of my childhood.

However, there is a vivid memory of my Dad that surpasses all others and it is one that still impacts my life today.

On many occasions I remember Dad sitting in his old easy chair, setting aside his carefully folded newspaper as he pulled me into his arms. Perhaps I was in tears from a recent punishment, or happy because I was invited to a play date, or beset by childhood fears.

Yet in his lap I felt safe.

And once again Daddy would say,

“Susan, I love you so much.”

“Why Daddy?” I responded.

“Just because you are mine,” he replied.

It wasn’t because I’d been good or bad. Most likely I’d been bad.

It was simply because I belonged to him.

That was enough.

This one statement, often repeated, gave me security and acceptance. Love from my earthly Father has enabled me to understand more clearly how my heavenly Father feels about me.

Daddy’s love for me wasn’t perfect. My heavenly Father’s love for me is perfect.

Daddy didn’t even know all the naughty things I got away with. My heavenly Father knows everything. Yet His response is still,

“I love you just because you belong to me.”

You may not have grown up with a Dad like mine. But the good news is that you can be the first of a generation of healthy families. Pull that young child into your lap. Whisper in his ear,

“I love you son. Do you know why?”

“It’s just because you are mine. You belong to me.”

Our world screams that performance earns love. Jesus says belonging to me ensures love and acceptance.

When guilt, failure, self-condemnation, and feelings of being unlovable creep into your head—rest in the truth that your heavenly Father is saying to you,

“I love you.”

Our little voice answers, “How could you?”

And He responds, “Just because you are mine. Period.”

In His lap you are safe.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead those that are with young. ~ Isaiah 40:11


Susan Alexander Yates

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How to Keep Your Marriage Together When The World Is Falling Apart

How to Keep Your Marriage Together When All the World Is Falling ApartDo you ever worry? Or at least wonder?

That’s what I asked her over our dinner together.

But my friend seemed surprised at my question. Not sure what I was exactly asking.

So I elaborated.

Do you ever have any concerns about your marriage? You know, with everything that’s been happening lately? All the bad news and marriages that appear to be falling apart everywhere?

Infidelity. Irreconcilable differences. Distance and divorce.

No matter where you look, it seems to be the same. Not merely documented in the news, but also seen in many families, dear friends, and even churches. 

So how does that affect you two?

I took another bite of my roasted beet salad, while she thoughtfully considered my question.

“No,” she eventually answered.  “I really don’t. I just don’t worry too much about it.”

She went on to say that she was confident in their marriage. Not only was she sure of the man she married, but she was sure of herself.

Not in a prideful way, mind you. But with a certain simplicity and assurance that did my heart good.

Because you know something? I liked her answer. A lot.

I came to realize that I had slowly let fear creep into my own heart over the past few years. I looked at what other people were doing – or not doing – and it made me question if we were next. If those same things were going to sneak up on us as well.

Thankfully, I’ve married a very patient man. So whenever I start throwing about my wild concerns or deepest fears, he only smiles and pulls me in tighter. He reminds me that that’s not what we’re all about.

That he loves me. And plans on loving me for the rest of our days.

He also reminds me that he has a healthy fear of God and that, ultimately, he is accountable to Him for being loving and faithful to me.

And I breath a sigh of relief.  Again.

So maybe you’re like me and sometimes wonder. Or worry.

You look around and see marriages crumbling and vows broken. Perhaps you come from a long line of broken hearts, like several of my close friends. Not certain if you even stand a chance.

But you do “stand a chance.” Because it’s not up to chance. It’s up to God and He is more than able to keep you together.

So look to Him. Not to the news. Not to your extended family. Not to your friends or neighbors (unless they’re an encouraging example).

And remember what’s true. 

We don’t need to live in fear.

When we become anxious and fearful, we are forgetting that our God is loving and powerful. There is nothing too hard for Him and nothing catches Him “by surprise” either.

Our confidence is not based on what a great guy he is or what a wonderful wife I am (ha!), but on Christ Himself. We love Him, fear Him, and we can trust Him with our marriage.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

What other people have – or don’t have – doesn’t determine what we have.

No matter what is going down around you, or what kind of (broken) legacy you might come from, you and your spouse can make your own decisions on what kind of marriage you desire.

When my husband and I were going through a sad season when a few of our closest friends were choosing divorce, we clung to each other and determined all the more that we were going to commit to loving one another. No matter what.

What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. ~ Mark 10:9

We should focus more on what is true and right – than what is going wrong in the world.

We can’t let the sins and hurts of this world define or influence our hearts toward our own marriage. So don’t let the situations around you make you anxious (note to self!), but keep your eye on Him who joined you together.

Then take it one step further. Fix your thoughts on all that is good and and lovely and be encouraged by these things!

Because, you know, there’s still some really good stuff going on. I can say that about my friend’s marriage and I can say it about ours.

And I’ll look forward to saying it about your marriage.

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ~ Phil. 4:5b-8

So why not love each other for the rest of your days? That’s what we want to do!

In His grace,
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