Thank YOU!

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, I am aware of being thankful for so many things in my life beginning with a God who is for me, and a wife and family that are too. In this post however, I want to highlight one thing in particular that I am especially thankful for.

Madly In Love

There are a number of couples and individuals who come to mind that I have known or worked with over the last few years, who refused to give up on their marriage, even when only one spouse was interested in doing the work. Rather than stay in a mindset of anger and bitterness, they did what they could do to change and grow personally.

In some situations, it made all the difference in the marriage, as the other spouse responded positively to the changes. Sadly, in some cases the other spouse still refused to take necessary steps of change themselves. It is to YOU–who have done all you could do–that I want to say “thank you!”

I thank each and every individual and couple who has stayed the course in their marriage and family even when the course was tough. Here’s why:

You are an encouragement to me and all those around you! There are many like you as well as Zerrin and I, who are continuing to run the race and want to do it well to the end. And when you run hard and do what you can to stay the course, it keeps us encouraged and strengthened to do the same. So I say thank you!  THANK YOU to each and every one of you!

May we all keep our eyes on the finish line with the anticipation of one day soon hearing the words from God Himself:  “Well done!”

Zerrin and I pray that you will enjoy a wonderful time of Giving Thanks this week!

I Married An Optimist!

It is one of the many reasons I married my wife. She is an eternal optimist. No doubt it is because of her dad. Never in my life have I met someone so positive. To this day I am convinced he is the Father of Optimism!

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One of the ways my wife and her father express their optimism, is through gratitude.

Think: grateful attitude.


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A Simple Way To Increase Connection in Your Marriage & Family

You and I both learned an important lesson in life at a very early age:

Take Turns!

Madly In Love

We see the need to teach it whenever we’re around children. One is playing with a toy, when another child comes along and grabs it because he wants to play with it. The first child cries or reacts in anger as she grabs the toy back, and a fight quickly ensues. As fast as we can, we  jump in between the children and say: “you guys need to take turns!”

The same is true for you and I in our marriages.

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One Thing That Will Make Resolving Conflict Easy(er)

I can think of a number of occasions when I was in a disagreement with my wife, my kids, or a friend. No doubt you can too. Recall the discomfort you felt, the tension in your body, the lack of certainty of what to do next.

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It is very difficult to feel any differently when conflict happens because of the fight, flight, or freeze button activated in our brains. There is however, one thing we can do to lessen those reactions and make resolving conflict easy(er).

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Ministry Update

In place of the blog this week, I wanted to take the opportunity to give you an update on some things we’re working on behind the scenes. I’m excited about what God is doing and where He’s taking our ministry.

First, one of the things I am most excited about is our conference schedule. We are in the process of planning several upcoming conferences. Here’s a preview—put one of them on your calendar and plan now to join us!

  • October 30, 2015 in Wichita, KS: This is a Friday night only shortened version of the Madly In Love marriage conference, that is specifically designed for all Pastors or ministry leaders. This is a great opportunity to be introduced to our ministry to churches, hear our core message, and learn the PLEDGE process for working through conflict with your spouse, your staff, and others!
  • February 19-20, 2016; Lighthouse Community Church; Wichita, KS: A full version of the conference open to all. Ticket and registration info coming soon.

Secondly, Zerrin, Danielle, and I have been praying, researching, and talking about ways in which to attract and reach more people with the PLEDGE message. We have a few ideas in mind for 2016 that we’re really excited about! Would you pray with us that God continues to lead us in new ideas, strategic partnerships, and fresh creativity?

Thirdly, several churches have asked if we would develop some material to teach PLEDGE in a small group format. We have a very brief guide available here, but we are also working on an expanded version that would be perfect for a church small group. We’re hoping to have this available early 2016.

Phew! With all that said, I’m spending more and more time connecting with pastors and developing new formats of content and have less time for the weekly blog so will start blogging twice a month rather than weekly. Now I’ll have more time to respond to your comments – so keep reading!

As always, thank you so much for praying with us and praying for us, we appreciate you so much!

Exciting things ahead!

Mark & Zerrin

What Have You Learned In Your Marriage Today?

Have you ever wondered why marriage goes the way it does with all it’s ups and downs? Some days you think you couldn’t live without your mate, and other days, well… it’s nice to have a bit of space. What if there was a purpose in all the challenges you face not only in your marriage but in life itself?

Madly In Love

Early this year a friend of mine wrote the following article that answers that question in a very revealing manner. I thought it was so good I wanted to share it with you with his permission. Read more to learn THE perspective you need to get the most out of your marriage, your family, and your life as a whole!

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6 Crucial Lessons For Your Marriage

Inspired By The Movie "War Room"

My wife and I went to see the Christian movie, War Room, recently produced by the Kendrick Brothers. It is about the battle that ensues over a troubled marriage. Whether you consider yourself a Christian or not, there are a number of key lessons to learn for your marriage to succeed. Here are six:


1. Be prepared for conflict: when you get married you are entering into a war zone.

Before long, one or the other of you will hurt or disappoint the other, and conflict will occur. In time you may also experience conflict between you and your in-laws; between you and your children; and potentially between you and those outside your marriage who don’t care if your marriage survives or not. If the Ashley Madison scandal proves anything, it reveals that there are many people who are looking to have an extra-marital affair with someone else who is married. Learn to work through conflict. 

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Do These 3 Things With The Story In Your Head

“Zerrin knows how to listen well, so why did she interrupt me? She must be getting tired of me having negative thoughts about life, so she just interrupted to stop me from whining. Living with me has to be hard–she may be just getting tired of me, period. I’m a mess.”

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In my last blog I wrote about how we develop stories in our head when a conflict happens. It is an attempt to bring clarity to the situation and therefore a greater measure of control and security.

Usually the stories develop along the lines of us berating ourselves for what happened or blaming the other person. Rarely does either lead to healthy resolve.

What does? And what do we do with the stories in our head?

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Do You Know The Story In Your Head?

Recently I was disappointed in a certain situation and decided to talk about it with my wife. Before I got even two paragraphs out of my mouth, she began telling me how she saw things from a different angle. Rather quickly I found myself frustrated and shutting down. It is often what I do at first when angry.

Madly In Love

In my head I found myself thinking things like:

“She knows how to listen well, so why did she interrupt me? She must be getting tired of me having negative thoughts about life, so she just interrupted to stop me from whining. Living with me has to be hard – she may be just getting tired of me, period. I’m a mess.”

That was the story in my head that day.

On another day it might have been something like:

“I can’t believe she interrupted me. Sometimes she can be so inconsiderate – like what I think and feel doesn’t matter to her at all! What matters to her is just getting out what she wants to say so she can get on with her day.”

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Mark’s Marriage Minute

Jake spoke up again, “ I’d say it’s pretty important that we think before we speak… it seems like whenever Lisa and I get into it, we just say the first thing that comes to mind. We don’t think about what we’re going to say or what the other person just said to us. We just—react.”

Lisa grimaced and reluctantly added, “That’s true. To continue with the sports theme, it’s like we volley back and forth looking for those opportunities when we can spike it on the other person’s side and score some points.”  (page 13, The PLEDGE of a Lifetime)

How often does the conversation with your spouse or a friend reflect what Jake and Lisa are speaking above? You volley back and forth all the while looking for an opportunity to score some extra points by spiking in a comment to hurt the other or make them back down from their attack?

There is an old proverb that says:  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21 NASB)

Every word that comes out of your mouth, will score a point for or against your marriage. (Tweet this) And you will eat the result.

This week’s challenge:

When you see each other in the morning and again at night, practice pausing to think before you speak to your spouse and kids. Make every effort to give words of life and win together in your marriage and family!