10 Ways to Prioritize Marriage in the Midst of Ministry {And A Valentine's Giveaway}

Foster care saved our marriage.

Or, it was one of the tools the Father used to plant a significant detour in our paths and save us.

If you know me, have sifted through the posts of our story, or if you are Melanie and have come in our home unannounced in the middle of a knock-down fight, you know the Lumpkins are flesh and blood, and therefore, their marriage is real and raw, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Rather than a honeymoon first year, it was more like death...our of souls.

Rather than blissful years one through five, it resembled two twenty-somethings pitching toddler tantrums on an hourly basis.

Granted, three surprise pregnancies, an incredibly sick son and an initially stressful work situation can put anyone under. Shake it up, light it on fire and set it ablaze in the time frame of three and a half years, and you think you'll never make it up for air again.

What many people don't understand, is how and why our marriage is more solid, even in the passion fights {we don't deny we're both intense people} now that we have a crazy life.

Two words...


To survive this merry-go-round of foster care, we've had to love counter-culturally to the world's standards, following only the example of our Savior, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.

And, this forced us to recognize early on, that we could not own this in one area of our lives without allowing to penetrate every sphere: our careers, parenting our forever children, our friendships, and our marriage.

This new realm of ministry demanded what Christ was already calling us to,

Loving one another boldly with intentionality.

WE ARE NOT EXPERTS. {Ask Melanie.} But we have, by God's grace, developed some guidelines to help us maintain a pulse on the greatest priority in our lives apart from our Savior.

1. We own that marriage is not about us or about us being happy. Our Father's ultimate purpose it to shape us into the image of His son. Marriage is one of the tools He uses to do that. Neither of us look very much like Jesus, so all that hammering and molding doesn't always feel good. But it is beautiful.

2. We recognize that we are not finished products but beg God to allow us to see one another as the Father sees us ~ clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Jamie is not in heaven, so his sanctification is not complete, nor is mine. We have to give each other grace in that.

3. We realize that Satan's hates godly marriages and families. We are not one another's enemies. Our enemy prowls like a roaring lion, seeking whom He may devour. The moment we forget that, is the moment we allow him in the door. And when you are pouring out your lives to the calling of loving families who are crumbling to the core, Satan would delight in nothing more than to expose your own marriage and family. 

4. {Practically} We kiss. We hug. We touch. Our goal is for every.single.day. It sounds crazy that we have to plan that, but when you have eight or so kids pulling at your legs, throw up to clean up, messages to return, and lice to pick out {another reason I took two weeks off writing}, you make room to kiss.

5. {Practically} I go to my knees in prayer for Jamie every.single.morning, and I literally mean on my knees. For me, this is a physical reminder as well as a spiritual reminder that Jamie is not mine, but I am surrendering Him into the Father's hands. 

6.  {Practically} I ask the Father to show me one thing unique to celebrate in Jamie every day. I text, email, or call him at work and let him know this. For example, earlier this week, God allowed me to see that I would never had said Yes to this crazy life, if it wasn't Jamie I was married too. This is our story. Praise your man and celebrate what God is doing in your story.

7. {Practically} Flirt and play. Guys, our life is intense. Some of you get it, and some of you have no clue. The shadows are dark, the stories are heart-breaking and the crisis is constant, but it's our life. This is the mission field to which we are called. We can't wait to enjoy each other until the tide has turned. This life is a battle, and Jamie and I are called to do it together. Do miss that. Have fun in the between moments whether it's a dance party cleaning up the kitchen or a snowball fight at midnight. Have fun.

8. {Practically} Date and escape. Your children need to see this. Your foster children need to see this. The world needs to see this, and you need it. Our schedules are insane, so we don't always get out. We've reached a point where we aim for one in-house date night a month, and one out-night a month. Find what works for you and your budget. But make it happen. One friend of mine goes out monthly on their anniversary number. Super cool. We would love to go out more, but life sometimes gets the best of us. More than this, we do get away three times a year. We require a minimum of two nights each time. Sometimes we stay home and send the kids away, but we require this. It forces us to evaluate what's working and what's not, and honestly, we sleep.

9. {Practically} As my friend Stephanie says, "Get out of the yoga pants and into the sexy." So sorry if that offends. But guys, Satan wants my man's eyes, and he would love nothing better than to distract me with "good" ministry things. I pray every.single. day. for God to thrill me to Jamie's touch, and I have for 12 years. He is faithful to honor those prayers because He wants us to delight in Him as we delight in one another. 

10. {Practically} Find ways to give one another space. Jamie knows I need conferences and times with like-minded women to be renewed in this daily calling. Jamie needs his guitar and his two best friend weekends a year. We honor that for one another and fight to make it happen because we know it's important.

Those are 10 little things that keep us running. What are some tangible ways God has put on your heart to love your man? Or what are some creative ways you have found to fight and protect your marriage? Comment below and be entered for a drawing of one of my favorite books, Prayers of an Excellent Wife.

**Don't forget! Only three more weeks until my blog birthday party ends! You don't want to miss it!

And from our marriage to yours, Happy Valentine's Day!


  1. I love this and will send it to my husband as soon as I finish commenting! Anyway, one way I try to love Rob is by intentionally saying thank you when he does something for the good of the household, like laundry or dishes or whatever. Yes, we share all the chores anyway because we both work full-time outside the home, so it's "expected" that he does his fair share, but we've both found that a simple thank you can go a long way. Especially, like you said, when there are children tugging on your pants or throwing up on you (hey that happened to me last night!) or whatever. It's just such a blessing to hear someone say, "Hey, I appreciate you."

  2. Thank you for this, what an excellent reminder!