How to Pray for the Marriage You Want (A 5-Day Plan)

Whether you’re craving deeper intimacy and connection, figuring out how to handle conflict, navigating differences in your faith, or just trying to have more fun together, the best thing you can do for your marriage is to invite God into the conversation. Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage celebrates its One-Year Anniversary this week (which feels extra fun, given that PAPER is the traditional gift marking the one year milestone!), and thanks to the folks at the Life Bible App, we’re sharing a FIVE-DAY PLAN to help you Pray for the Marriage You Want.

Adirondack chairs overlooking a lake

Day One is all about discovering – and fulfilling – your purpose in marriage. I’m sharing an excerpt below; if you like it and want to join more than 1000 other couples in this 5-day adventure, click here to get started.

Day One:  Fulfilling Your Purpose in Marriage

“Be fruitful and multiply!”

My mother wrote those words on every card she ever tucked into a wedding gift. Looking at her enthusiastic scrawl—always with an exclamation point—I used to cringe. What if a couple didn’t want children? What if they couldn’t have kids? What was wrong with just saying, “Congratulations! We hope you like this crock pot!”?

Now that I’m older (and nearly 40 years into my own marriage), I’ve learned to appreciate the deeper, richer wisdom in the “Be fruitful” charge. At face value, bearing fruit and increasing in number does mean having children, but that’s only part of the picture. The fruitfulness vision that started in Eden runs throughout Scripture. It colors the lives of Noah and Abraham and Joseph, winds its way through the psalms, and then comes calling for every believer:  “I chose you and appointed you,” Jesus says, “so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” (John 15:16)

So what does that look like? How can we be sure that our lives—and more specifically, our marriages—will be meaningful and productive? What if we have different ideas about, say, the best uses of money and time? How can we merge our individual (maybe even competing) desires so we have a unified sense of calling?

To discover the answers to questions like these, start with prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see your relationship through God’s eyes:

  • What are your individual strengths? What unique gifts do you have as a couple? What do you find easy to do, where others might struggle?
  • When do you feel most alive? What gives you purpose and joy? Where do you sense God’s pleasure in what you are creating or doing?
  • What sort of message do you want your marriage to send? What does your wider sphere of influence look like? How might God want to use you in that space?

Those questions aren’t meant to be all-inclusive; rather, they’re designed to help form your thoughts as you pray. And where you come up against thorny patches—individual strengths that feel competitive, or priorities that seem misaligned—bring those to God too. You are his handiwork, created to do the good works he has already prepared. (Ephesians 2:10)

Your differences don’t catch God by surprise; in fact, they may be the very things that equip you to fulfill your calling. They may be what makes you stronger together than you would be apart.

To Do:

Ask God to show you his vision for your marriage. Consider how he might want to use your particular gifts and talents for his glory. Write down your impressions and trust God to work in and through you to bear fruit as you pray:

To Pray:

Heavenly Father, make us worthy of our calling. Bring to fruition our every desire for goodness, that your name may be glorified in and through our marriage. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)


See how easy that is? These prompts and these prayers are simple, but they reflect desires that God delights to fulfill. I hope you’ll decide to join us in this 5-Day Plan to Pray for the Marriage You Want. (Heads up tho:  The plan is only active for the next week…no getting cold feet or you’ll miss it!)

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How to Pray for Your Grandchildren

Our church hosted a grandparents’ prayer gathering not long ago, one where they offered a printed collection of Scripture-based prayers to help you know how to pray for your grandchildren. I wasn’t sure I needed the handouts—I had plenty of stuff to pray about—but the cards were pretty and well-organized, so I picked them up and took a seat in the little chapel where we were meeting.

How to pray for your grandchildren cards

The first thing I did was to open my journal and write down the names of all five of my grandkids. I figured that would help keep me focused. I can be like our dog Minnie sometimes, especially when it comes to prayer. Minnie sees a ball or a squirrel or whatever, and it doesn’t matter what she was thinking about before then. She’s gone.

Writing the children’s names gathered and grounded my thoughts.

Names of grandkids in my Growth Book Journal

Then I let my eye wander over the verses on the cards. They were listed topically, one after the other, with prayer prompts for anger, anxiety, confidence, direction, friendships, humility…. You get the idea.

I paused and asked God to show me, specifically, what each child needed and what he wanted to do in their lives. How might he want me to pray for each one of my grandchildren?

One of our grandsons, Grayson, is two years old. His baby brother was due any day, and as I thought about what Grayson might need, the verse under GENEROSITY began to resonate:  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Timothy 6:18)

Grayson is a delightful kid, but I knew his world was about to change. No longer an only child, he’d have to share his home, his toys, his dog, his dad, and—most of all, at this point in his little life—his mom. He doesn’t always love it when my daughter holds other babies. He wants all of her arms. Sitting there in the quiet chapel, I began to ask God to make Grayson generous toward his baby brother. To help him be rich in good deeds. To equip him to be willing—eager, even—to share, whether it was his beloved toy excavator or space on his mom’s lap.

A prayer for your grandchild for generosity

And as I prayed, something interesting happened. God began to expand my vision, and I pictured these boys as adults.

I thought about how they might grow up to love and support one another, being generous with everything from their time (moving furniture, for example, into a college apartment), to their words (coming alongside one another in times of both mourning and joy), to their finances. My friend Susan Yates tells the story of a businessman who paid off his brother-in-law’s college debt in response to a prompting from God. The businessman didn’t tell anyone else what he’d done—he merely acted in obedience, putting love into action and fulfilling 1 Timothy 6:18.

Who among us would not want our grandchildren to care for one another like that?

I know I would. But I would never have thought about praying for a two-year-old’s generosity—let alone envisioning him as an adult who would be rich in good deeds and willing to share—except for the verse on that card. God’s word is powerful! 

And here’s the thing about praying the scriptures when we pray for our grandchildren—or anyone else. We don’t do the blessing, the healing, the providing, the protecting. That’s God’s job. Our job is simply to be the conduit for his power. Watchman Nee, a Chinese Christian writer, put it like this:  “Our prayers lay the track down which God’s power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, his power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails.”

Watchman Nee quote about our prayers lay the track

Let’s lay the track down.

Because stories like God opening my eyes to how I might pray for my grandchildren—and prompting me to ask for generosity in one little boy’s life—are never just one-off’s. Our prayers continue to unfold, long after the words have left our mouths. As Ephesians 3:20 reminds us, God is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” And when we pray prayers birthed out of time spent in Scripture—when we anchor our prayers to Christ’s words, and allow them to animate our desires—we tap into a power that goes beyond anything our mind can conceive.

We welcomed Grayson’s baby brother, Henry, on March 1. One of my favorite ways to pray for my grandchildren, right from the start, is to pick a prayer verse that lines up with their actual birth date. The verse I’m praying now for our 3/1 baby is rooted in 1 John 3:1 – “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)t

I’m asking God to let Henry know, now and always, the lavishness of God’s love.

Big Brother welcomes the new baby



To access prayer cards like the ones shown in the photo above, click here to visit Grandparents@Prayer. And if you want a collection of prayers for your adult kids as they parent your grandkids–as well as bonus prayers for the children–you’ll find those, along with some encouraging stories and ideas for how you can pray for your grandchildren, in my book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children.

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Technology and Your Teen: How to Fight the Digital Battle

Friends, you may know that we’re in the middle of “Teens Week” right now on my Instagram page with printables, interviews, and articles every day—resources designed specifically to equip you to pray for your teenagers. I wrote this piece about teens and technology for our friends over at Club31Women (which has a new look, along with several new contributors you’ll be HAPPY to meet!), and I’m delighted to share it with you.

Technology and Your Teen: How to Fight the Digital Battle

Teen holding iPone

Technology is the number one reason parents say that raising teens today is more complicated (and difficult) than it was in the past.

For all of its blessings—things like ready access to information, easy and efficient communication, and the ability to build social and business networks—technology can also scare us. As parents, we may feel out of control or overwhelmed by the ever-rising tide of new apps, platforms, and devices. We may worry about the proven effects of social media use—everything from peer pressure and cyberbullying to sleeplessness, low self-esteem, and increased anxiety. And then there’s pornography. Depending on which study you cite, the average age of a child’s first exposure to porn is somewhere between eight and eleven years old.

It can feel like we are under a constant attack (and we are). But what can we do?

We can take our cue from Nehemiah, the Old Testament guy who faced threats as real as the ones that stream into our homes every day. As Nehemiah and his fellow Jews worked to rebuild Jerusalem, their enemies kept up a constant barrage of insults and attacks. In response, Nehemiah did three things:  He posted a guard, made a plan to fight back, and prayed.

Mom and daughter praying together

Here’s what this might look like for us:

Post a guard. “Above all else,” the Bible says, “guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23) In addition to things like installing filters and having access to the passwords on our teens’ devices, let’s be intentional about teaching our kids to guard their time, and their hearts, against the mindless scrolling and empty entertainment that screens can deliver—along with feelings of inferiority, loneliness, and depression.

Make a plan. It’s been said that “more is caught than taught,” and a key ingredient in any successful family strategy is for parents to model the behaviors they want their kids to adopt. What this actually looks like will vary between families, but think about what you want to see happen—more in-person conversation, for instance, or better sleep—and then commit to the actions that will help get you there. Maybe you turn off your phones at the dinner table, designate car time as conversation time, or put your devices “to bed” before you go to sleep (and don’t wake them up until after you’re up and dressed).

Pray. Nehemiah’s battle strategy called for unity among the Israelites and a willingness to fight together to keep everyone safe. Nobody worked alone; they used a buddy system—with each worker carrying a weapon along with their tools and building materials. At the first sign of an invasion, Nehemiah would have his own buddy sound the trumpet, and the Israelites would close ranks to repel the attackers.

“Do not be afraid,” Nehemiah exhorted his people. “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” (Nehemiah 4:14)

We can tap into that same unity. Instead of fighting the internet invasion on our own, let’s partner with other parents in our churches or neighborhoods, using our “sword”—which is God’s Word—to give power and life to our prayers.

Prayers for Protection and Peace

As we think about how to pray specifically for our teens and how they use technology, we can pray both defensively and offensively.

Defensively, we can ask God to put a “wall of protection” around our teens’ hearts and minds. (Job 1:10)  We can ask him to guard what they see, since the “eye is the lamp of the body,” opening the door to darkness or light. (Matthew 6:22-23) And we can trust God to protect our teens with his righteousness, delivering them from loneliness, trouble, and shame. (Psalm 25:16-21)

Offensively, we can pray that our teens will be “devoted to one another in love, honoring each other above themselves.” (Romans 12:10) We can ask God to prompt them to “walk in the light, as he is in the light,” so they will have fellowship with one another and be cleansed from all sin. (1 John 1:7) And we can pray big-picture prayers, asking God to help our teens think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, and admirable—whatever is excellent and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8)

As we pray for our teens, let’s also pray for ourselves, asking God to keep us in perfect peace as we trust his provision. (Isaiah 26:3) We don’t have to live in worry or fear; instead, we can slip our hand into God’s and fight for the people we love.


Let’s make this personal.

What role does prayer play in your parenting? If you’re not sure where to begin, ask God to open your eyes to the good things he wants to do in your family. Pick one or more of the verses or prompts in this post and commit to partnering with God, through your prayers, to accomplish his best purposes in the lives of your teens. As you pray, believe that God is at work, and trust him not just for the teenager you see today, but for the person that he or she is becoming.

You can read more about how prayer opens the door to God’s provision in Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens, or visit to access free printables, including a prayer calendar and a collection of a prayer cards to help you pray specifically about twelve different topics in your teen’s life.

Prayer Cards for teens - free printable

Prayer card for technology use

You can also download a study guide designed to help you dig deeper into the Bible as you pray. The guide is a BRAND NEW resource, so grab a friend or three and do it together. Because the teen years, perhaps more than any other, are when we need our people to come alongside us and pray. We’re all in this together!

Teens Study Guide


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The Gift of Limitations

Friends, you know I’m not writing too much these days—not a new book, anyway, and not many articles for this space or others. I’m actually keenly aware of my limitations, which may be why I am LOVING a new book that’s releasing today:  The Gift of Limitations by Sara Hagerty. 

Sara holding The Gift of Limitations

Sara is among my favorite contemporary authors (you may remember me bawling into my beach towel before standing up and declaring—to literally everyone within earshot on Delaware’s crowded August seashore—that I had just finished “the best book on the beach”), and this latest release does not disappoint.

The Gift of Limitations is about finding beauty in our boundaries. It’s about sensing God’s presence—and even his purpose—when everything feels like Too Much. Too much laundry. Too many bills. Too many people living in your house this week because Somebody just had a baby and Somebody else came home to meet him and yet another Somebody’s sewer line broke, and all of the Somebodies are grown-up children you love who have children of their own who just want to eat Fruit Snacks and Goldfish from the secret shelf in your pantry when they are not napping in one of the FOUR cribs you set up or telling you or not telling you that they need to go potty.

Limitations is about finding beauty in places like that.

(And I did 😉.)

When I realized the book was dropping this week, I reached out to Sara to see if 1) she’d be willing to do a giveaway JUST FOR YOU, and 2) she’d let me share a sneak peek from one of my favorite chapters. And happily, she said YES to both!

If you want to win a copy (and the book is coffee-table pretty, so even if your current limitations mean you aren’t doing much reading, it’s worth getting just to look at), I’m sharing the giveaway details on my Instagram page. We’ll announce the winner on Friday, but in the meantime, here’s the excerpt.

And y’all. I picked this one because let’s be honest. We’ve all been there…

Beach Trip Gone Wrong

(An excerpt from The Gift of Limitations by Sara Hagerty)

Once a year, we drive through five states over two days to spend a week at the beach with my family. Two passengers on an eighteen-plus-hour road trip might likely feel cramped and uncomfortable. We have nine. Nine suitcases, nine beach towels, snacks for nine, sleep comforts for nine—favorite pillows, favorite stuffed animals, favorite blankets (the down comforter I inherited from a college roommate twenty years ago is now Eden’s and leaving a trail of lost feathers behind it). When the sliding door of the oversized van-SUV we drive opens as we stop for fuel or restroom breaks, the wall of snacks and luggage lined against it topples onto the pavement—every time.

Before the trip, it takes me nearly a week to make lists and place orders, and then it takes two days to pack, all in preparation for the six we actually spend at the beach. The disproportionate amount of time we spend preparing for the trip compared to the time spent with our feet in the sand and playing water games with cousins in the pool fades at first glance of the ocean every year.

One particular year, however, we brought not only nine overly prepared packers but also a nasty virus. For days into a week and beyond, the glands in my neck swelled up like golf balls, and it took all my energy to swallow, much less talk. I spent most of the trip either in bed or half-present and foggy. Without me, kids biked the rambling paths of this South Carolina beach town and built sandcastles. Nate lugged bags of beach towels down to the beach, and sandy bottoms back up to the beach house, day after day, as I struggled to sip water with a straw.

Conversations with nieces and nephews, late-night games, and catch-ups with my siblings didn’t happen that year. The world went on without me, and I merely endured the beach trip for which I’d spent a week preparing and after which I’d spend days unpacking.

One of the nights of the trip, as I heard the laughter from the games downstairs—games for which my voice couldn’t carry and my energy couldn’t sustain—I moped through getting myself to bed. This week felt like a microcosm of so much of my life: me, standing on the other side of the glass storefront, watching life happen inside, a life I couldn’t reach. Had this week not come after many instances where I knew what I wanted but couldn’t have, it may have been an isolated ache, but it was a bell on a long string of bells whose ringing made all the others chime.

As I padded around the bedroom that had become my cell, I toggled between praying, crying to God, and complaining, and then this question popped into my mind:  What if I meant for it to be this way?

Hmmm… I thought. Surely this sickness is the devil or the result of carelessness, not from God.

I don’t venture to guess whether the question was from Him, but the mere thought of God initiating my standing on the other side of the windowpane was a relief somehow. For the first time, I bumped up against my limitations and felt respite.

What if it was God? What if it wasn’t the stress I’d been carrying in my body giving permission to a virus, or my not washing my hands thoroughly enough at rest stops? What if it wasn’t another near miss of an opportunity, like the kind I’d felt so often to be a part of my story?

What if it was Him?

What once may have made me feel angry or overlooked gave me a pause in which I felt safe. My life was directed. I didn’t need to orchestrate the details or secure the variables. I could exist and have life—as arranged by God—happen to me. Something sighed inside of me at this notion of being led, at the thought of my growing bouquet of stories creating a simple remembrance of this beauty and this truth: maybe I was made for this.

Quote from The Gift of Limitations by Sara Hagerty

Something happened to my heart that week at the beach. Though I was missing out on in-depth conversations, heart-connections with my family, belly laughs, and the making of new memories, I felt like a child who woke up each morning wondering what the day would hold for her—less obligation, more receiving.

Hedged in by the limits of my body, I was a child again at the beach. Palms open—a shell collector, an observer, a mere onlooker, a beneficiary. And something about this role set my little-girl heart racing as if riding a ten-speed bike for the first time. I could be me, receiving, unsure but led.

The fence line felt good at the beach that year. Real good. As if I was always meant to be that child, parented through limits and coming alive within them.


There’s much more to Sara’s story, of course—along with Bible passages to consider and bonus material to explore at the end of each chapter. But as we wrap up this post… What about you?

What would it look like to bump up against your limitations and feel…respite?

That’s what I’m experiencing now, limited in my writing but oh-so-grateful for the gift of a new grandbaby—it’s a boy!—plus a church home where I get to teach Bible study, a house that I get to clean, and a husband I get to love (even when he steals all the covers). The writing may resume eventually, but for now I’m leaning in to a few verses from one of my most-favorite Psalms:

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:6-8)

Which is actually a great prayer for the people you love:

Heavenly Father,

Encircle ______ with your boundary lines; grant them a delightful inheritance. Counsel ______ and instruct them. May ____ keep their eyes always on you; let them not be shaken!


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Golden Bachelor question: Do love stories get better with age?

Do love stories get better with age? That’s apparently what Golden Bachelor fans want to know. And with the wedding of 72-year-old Gerry Turner (the show’s first-ever “golden bachelor”) to contestant Theresa Nist set to be televised live last week, the editors at Fox News reached out to me to see if I had anything to add to the conversation.

Truth be told, I’d never seen the reality show. But I love the idea of late-in-life love—especially since I’ve had a front row seat to watching it flourish between my mom, Claire, and her husband, John—and I told the Fox folks that I’d be delighted to jump into the fray!

Some of you know at least part of this story already, but for those who don’t (and in case you missed the Fox News piece when it posted), here’s my take:

The secret lesson in the Golden Bachelor story

East Coast Winter Storm Danger.

That’s what’s “trending” on my phone today, with predictions for back-to-back winter whoppers over the weekend. I’m not stocking up on the hot cocoa and wine—not yet, anyway—but I know at least two people who would dearly love to see some of the white stuff: My 84-year-old mom, Claire, and her husband, John.

Last time we got snow, they sent me this pic:

Mom and John making snow angels - Golden bachelor fans, eat your heart out!

At first, I thought they’d been shot.

But then I noticed the Boogie Boards, and the pieces began to fall into place. Mom and John had been sledding (surf toys do double duty when you live at the beach) and, eager to make the most of their snow day, they’d moved on to snow angels. I have no idea how long they lay there like that, or who took the picture. I just know they had fun.

Did I mention that they are in their eighties?

Golden Bachelor fans, eat your heart out.

A golden love story

And actually, had the reality show been in production when John was still on the market, he would have been quite the catch for the program’s producers. They wouldn’t have had to come up with any zany ideas or plot twists to keep viewers engaged; John is a living, breathing ratings’ bonanza.

To make their wedding day extra special, for instance, John hired an actor to don a rented gorilla suit and “kidnap” my mom off the dance floor. Not your typical champagne toast, sure, but their first date was an accidental screening of King Kong (they’d meant to see Munich, but it was sold out), and it seemed fitting to carry on with the monkey theme.

I mean, who wouldn’t? And what could possibly go wrong?

The first hint of trouble came when the paid actor didn’t show up. (A better gig? Hard to fathom.)

Undeterred, John found his son, John Jr., at the reception and convinced him to swap his tux for the gorilla outfit. Problem solved—except that John Jr. wasn’t the same size as the original actor, and he couldn’t see out the eyeholes. This being a second marriage for both of our parents, he and I didn’t know one another very well, but that didn’t stop my new step-brother from stumbling into me on the dance floor and hissing through his plastic nostrils: “I can’t find your mother! Help me!”

I launched John Jr. in Mom’s direction, whereupon he successfully abducted her—in her full-length white wedding gown—and hauled her down the dock to a waiting boat. With nearly 200 curious party guests looking on, John-the-groom sprang into action. “I’ll save you!” he cried, and hopped a jet ski to give chase.

At that point, most people figured the party was over. There’d been no alcohol, but everyone was definitely a bit loopy and, knowing that John intended to bring Mom back, my husband and I plied the guests with more cheese and did our best to convince them to stay.

Long story short (and it was kind of a long story; after transferring mom to the back of his jet ski, John got lost coming home), the hero returned with his new bride on his arm and the DJ (whose playlist was more of a wedding soundtrack) cut loose with Ray Orbison’s Pretty Woman.

Mom and John on jet ski

The longer they live, the brighter they shine

Why do I share this story with you? It’s a good one, for starters. But more than that, even, it’s a great reminder that getting older doesn’t mean getting less fun. Or, if you’re looking for love, less eligible.

The more than 10,000 Baby Boomers who turn 65 every year know this to be true. So do thousands upon thousands of their younger counterparts—viewers who make up Bachelor Nation, for instance. Age doesn’t matter, it seems, when it comes to savoring second chances in life.

And second (or even third) chances at love.

My mom was just 60 years old when my father, himself just 61, died after a year-long battle with glioblastoma. She bore the suffering with grace and resourcefulness; I remember her bringing Pepsi, Fritos, and an armload of sofa cushions to the parking lot of their condo, declaring that it was “time for a picnic” when Dad was too weak to walk back inside after yet another doctor’s appointment. But she had to have wondered what the future held. What would life look like without my father? How would she cope, on her own? She knew that God loved her and that he would be with her; could she trust him to make a way in what felt like a wilderness of the unknown?

If that’s where you are today—wondering what’s next, looking for love, maybe even feeling the ache of an unmet longing after a lifetime of singleness, an unwanted divorce, or the death of a spouse—know this:  God is still writing your story. It’s not finished yet. And I’ve got an idea that he has a soft-spot for romance among his more “seasoned” children. Just look at Abraham and Sarah, Boaz and Ruth, or Elizabeth and her man Zechariah. Even Job—the guy whose story none of us want—finished well. God blessed the latter part of his life, the Bible tells us, more than the first!

The best, as they say, really may be yet to come.

As I look at my mother and John—a couple whose late-in-life-love continues to deepen and flourish—I think the writer of Proverbs got it right: The longer they live, the brighter they shine. (Proverbs 4:18 MSG)

And in fact, I can picture the both of them now, rooting around in their coat closet, looking for mittens and boots and other snow gear, in case they get to make some more angels. I don’t have the heart to tell them that I think all we’ll see this weekend is rain.

Honestly though? I don’t think they’d care.

They’d probably go out and start jumping in puddles.


If you’ve been around this space for a while, thank you. You may know that I’ve been on a writing “sabbatical” since last June. The request from Fox News was a gentle nudge to me to get back in the saddle, and (Lord willing!) I hope to resume monthly newsletters in 2024. I’ll be talking about parenting, marriage, and how we can be difference-makers, living lives marked by purpose and impact, as we remain in Christ’s love.

And in the meantime, if you want to read more about aging well (and 30 other different topics we all grapple with), you’ll find that in my book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Life. And for those who want a perspective on love beyond what the Golden Bachelor had to offer, check out Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage.

Jodie & Robbie with John and Mom at their wedding reception (John is better than any Golden Bachelor!)


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