2 Resources For Premarital Bliss

Did you do premarital counseling?

Do you wish you would have?

Would you benefit from marriage counseling now?

Funny how counseling is seen as a last resort.  But with a commitment as huge as marriage, why not get some outside help?

Find some people that are doing marriage well and take them to dinner and ask them their secrets.  I am POSITIVE that they have some good advice for you.  Good marriages don’t just happen, they take work. So even if you get some knowledge and wisdom on HOW to do it… you’ve still have to DO it.

I remember Jess and I taking a couple out and asking them about marriage.  As we settled into the booth at the restaurant and were small talking, the husband blurts out:  “All of your fights are going to be over two things… sex and money.”  His wife embarrassedly swatted at him, but he just looked back and her and asked… Am I right?  And she shook her head in agreement.  I think that is our most memorable marriage advice moment.

Jess and I recently got asked to do some premarital counseling for a couple that met in Hawaii a few years ago.

Thank God for the interwebs, the couple are in different locations right now, and we’re in a different location from them, so a lot of these sessions will be done over e-mail and skype.

The two resources that I always recommend for marriage counseling are:

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1001 Questions To Ask Before You Get Married by Moncia Mendez Leahy

Each chapter is broken up into a theme, and then you are given questions to answer and compare notes.  We suggest couples just ask the question together and discuss it.  A lot of them will be no brainers, but there are questions that you may not have thought of or discussed.

I was at a Danny Silk conference this weekend and he spoke about how marriage is the blending of two family cultures.  He went on to say that there has to be communication about which culture is going to be adopted on certain issues, or if you’re going to create a new way of doing things within your new family.  He actually wrote a book for engaged couples called Defining The Relationship, I haven’t read it, but I have read some of his other books, so I assume its well done and very practical.

We assume things will be done the way it’s always been done.  Problems arise when both parties are assuming something is going to happen their way.  Thats why this book is such a great resource.  It causes you to have the conversation before the emotionally charged event happens.


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Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs 

I once gave this to a woman who was struggling in her marriage.  She committed to only reading the woman’s portion of the book, she didn’t want to read what the man was suppose to do and get upset because he wasn’t doing it.  And she says it saved her marriage.

This book plainly spells out what women and men want and need.  The revolutionary (except, the Apostle Paul wrote about it like 2000 years ago) concept that men receive love through respect is huge.

What advice or resources have really helped your marriage?  Comment and let us know:)

Want $8.62 Off Your $50 Purchase at Amazon?

When I see good deals, I like to tell you about them, so here is one.

Today Amazon is offering $8.62 OFF a $50 purchase of items sold by Amazon.  So no third party vendors.  I couldn’t figure out why the promo code wouldn’t work but then realized the $50 included a third party item that wasn’t actually being sold by Amazon.

To get the cart up to $50 worth of Amazon goods I purchased some guitar strings which is something that won’t perish and I will always need.

Click HERE and use the promo code BIGTHANKS at check out.  Today only.

Hope this helps some of you!


Perfectionism Is Robbing You

Sunset chaser

How are your New Years resolutions going?

Not perfect? Hmm

Well, you’ve got two choices.

1.  Berate yourself for not meeting the unrealistic goal you set in the first place.


2.  Celebrate the very real progress you have made.

I highly recommend number 2.

Celebrating the small victories you’ve made are going to encourage you to keep going.

Getting down on yourself for missing the mark?  Keep up with that negative self talk and you’ll create a  new destructive habit trying soothe your negative self talk.

Change the way you talk to yourself.  It’ll change your life.  It’s changing mine.


A Gospel Worldview


Yesterday I made my first political post on facebook.  It went like this:

Dear Christians,

What if every time we saw a political post on here, we prayed and asked God how WE can share and be the Good News to our nation, to our neighbor.

We don’t need Jesus for president because Jesus is already King. If we want more of His influence in the world it starts with making Him LORD of our OWN lives.

Salvation, hope and restoration came through ONE man, and it wasn’t any Presidential candidate.

After Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice He was given ALL authority, and then He gave us a commission.

Matt 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Yes, Presidents are important, but their leadership doesn’t negate our commission to steward well, influence, forgive as we’ve been forgiven and love like He loved us.

We’re still called to open our mouths and share the Good News of Jesus Christ and to make disciples who know and have encountered the goodness and truth of His scandalous love and who hear the Fathers voice and OBEY.

God’s with us always, to the very end of the age. The next president only 4 maybe 8 years.




Oh interwebs… you are a funny place.  We should expect pushback especially on the internet.

A friend shared my post and someone commented on their share this:

In my opinion, this is attitude is problematic. It demonstrates the predominate mindset for Christians whenever challenging political or societal questions arise, and has become a major factor in why our society is in such dire spiritual and political straits – few christians take a stance on polarizing topics.

This mindset is not far off from putting your head in the sand/clouds. The end result of this worldview is to be lukewarm in every non-theological discussion. Id rather be right or wrong on tough societal and political issues, then be “meh”

The conversation went on and I chose not to get involved.  Because you know…

My mind was completely changed on an issue because of an argument I had online said no one ever.

I’m teaching on worldview in a couple weeks in all of the RED Schools.  And I’m basing my teaching heavily on this book.  Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey.

It talks about how we’ve put Christianity in a subjective personal religious box and how people are okay with it if it’s just your private faith.

But when the gospel is preached, it changes communities and economies.  Remember in Acts 16 where the fortune telling woman was a big money maker and she gets set free and everyone is mad?

Or how about in Acts 19 when Demetrius is TICKED cause no one is buying idols of artemis anymore.

When the gospel is proclaimed it should be transformative.  It should change the way we live our lives in every realm.

Crooked tax collectors met Jesus and repaid their debts and stopped ripping people off.

Prostitues stopped prostituting.

The kingdom of God isn’t a political Kingdom, otherwise Jesus would have taken over Rome.

So if you want to have influence (and we should) in the political arena, in policy making, in the moral discussion, in culture shaping, it requires that be:

  1.  Under the Lordship of Jesus which means we OBEY and we’re teaching others to hear and obey
  2.  Actively involved in the culture, creating value.  No one wants to listen to a back seat driver.  If you want influence, be an influencer, create value in every sphere!  And then watch people value your other opinions.

And oh man… obedience.  Obedience last the longest in a trusting relationship.  I’ll expound on that one soon.

There’s some afternoon thoughts for ya… whatdaythink?  Comment and let us know.

VikiJanuary 2, 2017 - 7:31 am

Well said, Jim. I have a diverse set of friends on Facebook. I try to exhibit my faith, but not be preachy. I want them to see in me something that will give them hope when they need hope. I want to be a light when they realize they are in the darkness. I want to be loving, but not accepting of the world’s standards.
God bless you!

Jim BakerJanuary 5, 2017 - 11:57 am

awesome comment! It was great to see you from afar the other month haha :)

It’s Not What You Say It’s How You Say It

sometimes-your-tonewill-disqualify-youGood morning, woke up a little after 5am this morning.

Last week I set a goal to get up at 6am every morning.  When you work from home there’s not a time you have to be at work.  But I feel like 6am is an adult time to wake up.  When I get a hard start to my morning I have much better days than when I just wake up whenever I want.  I’m celebrating that I set a goal and have been killing it!

As I shared in the last post I’ve been trying to start my day with a creative project, putting a thought on “paper” and sharing it.  It causes me to have to sit and think about something as well as do something slightly creative and productive to start out my day with a win.

The one I worked on this morning was not the one I ended up posting.  I ended up sharing the one above.

My original thought this morning needs to be reworked, I even started writing a blog post about my original idea, but the tone was so negative.

Something my dad said a lot growing up was “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”  And it’s stuck with me.  Parents keep planting seeds, a lot of the things my dad has said over the years have stuck with me.

Thinking about HOW to say something is interesting.  You can be saying the same basic thought, but it can be perceived very very differently based on how you deliver it.

“Sometimes your tone can disqualify you.”

I originally had will instead of can.

Sometimes your tone will disqualify you.

But can is a bit more passive, and less harsh.  Less severe.  Will sounds like it definitely will disqualify you where can gives a bit of ambiguity.

I also thought about removing the word “sometimes” but that sometimes again softens the blow.

Your Tone Can Disqualify You.  vs Sometimes Your Tone Can Disqualify You

Again adding in a bit of ambiguity makes it more palatable.  Without sometimes it sounds so accusatory and scolding.

When you stare at words this long and think about them like this they start to fall apart and not make any sense at all.

Row-ad.  (Tommy boy?)

Anyway, if you often feel you’re misunderstood, I encourage you to check your tone.  Ask someone who you trust and and who loves you if your tone is getting in the way of the good things you have to say.

Sometimes communication is an art form that requires practice.

God gave us a filter.  Just because a thought comes to our mind doesn’t mean we have to say it.

You have good things to contribute, maybe that thought needs an edit, a flair, a finesse to be received well.  It takes practice and discipline but it’s worth it.

Creativity Productivity And Perfectionism


I recently decided I wanted to up my twitter game.  So I’ve set a goal to follow 5 people a day and be more active on twitter.  I’ve been faithfully following more and more people and well so far… I’ve gained less followers than I have followed but thats okay.  Slow and steady wins the race right?

Part of my new daily strategy is to create little “memes” with some thought I’ve had.  It’s a nice daily discipline that requires a little bit of creativity and requires me to take something that has been floating around in my head and condense it down to clearly communicated idea, which is really not easy.

There’s a million ways you can say things.  Words are hard.  Communication is hard.  So it’s a great exercise.

Sometimes I get stuck, and then I’ll ask input from my wife who majored in English.

Feedback is hard sometimes too, because I subconsciously want what I’m saying to sound a certain way, to include certain words and I’m coming at it from my own understanding of which my wife knows nothing about because I haven’t communicated those things.

Anyway… after a certain point I just have to publish what I’ve got.  Today’s thought is above and it’s not A+ work it’s probably about a C.  But I had to post it on instagram otherwise I’d keep revising and I’d kill it in the process and lose momentum.

I can always come back and revisit the thought and communicate it clearer next time.

The difference between posting something average, and feeling defeated and not posting anything is a small but huge difference.  It seems minimal, but I really think it has an affect on my day.  Because being productive even in small things helps push your momentum forward.  If I wouldn’t have posted that meme (is a text graphic even considered a meme?) I probably wouldn’t be posting this blog, and who knows what momentum posting this blog will push me towards.

Be creative, share it with the world, don’t let perfectionism stop you, keep your momentum going, average or even below average work published is better than the defeat of no work.  Fight fear and resistance.  Publish.

Follow me on instagram and twitter @jimjessbaker

Ignore Everybody

My new neighbor Clayton just opened a barber shop, and he’s also quite the talented artist.  He and his wife came over for some taquitos and brownie sundaes and a round of catan.  On the way out I took this book of my bookshelf and let him borrow it.

I think my buddy Cory Pampalone recommended it to me.  And now I’m recommending it to you.

Quick, easy and inspiring read.  A little foul at times so reader beware.  But it’s good and practical which creativity doesn’t always seem to be.

Friends Friday :: Jennifer Lee Hester

YAY!  Another friends Friday.  From time to time I like to showcase one of my friends that’s doing amazing things.  I met Jenn in Honolulu and recently she’s been putting out some amazing design work on Instagram so I asked her to do an interview.  Here it is!

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Jenn thanks so much for doing this interview, I love love love your work.  I don’t think you remember this but when were in Honolulu together working one time I was cleaning out the sound area and you were doing landscaping and I stomped on this spider egg sack that manifested thousands of spiders and I screamed like a girl.  I remember looking around and only seeing you around and being like… gosh that girls gonna think I’m crazy.  hahahaha anyway…

What do you do?

I am a painter, crafter, and graphic designer.

How’d you get started in that?

I have always loved arts and crafts so that has always been in my life. Graphic Design was recently introduced to me about 2.5 years ago. My brother’s girlfriend graduated in graphic design and it sparked my interest so after coming home from a lot of traveling and figuring I wouldn’t be settling soon I decided to finish my degree in graphic design online.

Day 4 Mr. Hestarino - Pizza Conaseur-01-01

What is the most amazing thing you’ve seen?

The most amazing thing I have ever seen is just the natural beauty in the world. The landscapes beat anything.

What is the most heartwarming thing you’ve seen?

This is so hard and I can’t think of anything pertaining to art but the most heartwarming thing I’ve ever seen is when I went to the Philippines and worked at an abused girls home and there was a tiny girl there that was about 4 or 5. Every morning I would wake up she would run up to my legs and hug them and look up at me and say Hi Ate! (Older Sister in Filipino)

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever seen?

The craziest thing I have ever seen is sidewalk chalk art done by Julian Beever. He makes 3d Illusions using sidewalk chalk and I remember the first time I saw it I was obsessed and blown away. Check his stuff out at julianbeever.net!

What is the most encouraging thing anyone has ever said/done to you?

My husband reminds me of inner beauty here and there but when we went to Lake Tahoe for our honeymoon we were standing right in front of this beautiful and mighty waterfall. He looked over at me and said, “You know you are way more beautiful than any of this…It’s so true.” He reminds me how much God loves me and in my opinion just getting that reminder that you are loved like that is the most encouraging thing in the world.



What’s your biggest mistake?

I was a wild and rebellious kid in high school so I wasn’t very present but if I could start over I would get way more involved in art programs and events at school.

What’s your biggest struggle and how did you overcome it?

My biggest struggle was to be happy with my style and finding true enjoyment with what I do. Instead of trying to do what others are doing you need to find what you love to do and become really good at it. Endurance is key!

What keeps you inspired to keep going/creating/working?

It just brings me peace and joy to do it and it comes natural. I love seeing reactions from people when I post new art and when I give people gifts. Also, it’s a part of how I express myself and maybe in a way that I can’t exactly express with words and I think everyone has a special way of expressing themselves.

Who or what resource has been inspiring you lately?

I have been really into hand lettering and typography so there are hundreds of people that I follow to learn all kinds of stuff from. Instagram seems to be my number one resource for inspiration because its right at my fingertips. A few people I follow on Instagram are @handletteredtruth @designspiration @jacycorral @frenchpapercompany @1924us and many more. I also love going outside in nature, there’s so much out there to be inspired by.

What disciplines in life do you depend on to be consistent?

I think it’s important to do something every day whether it be a small doodle to a huge project. Another thing to do is to learn from others and be inspired by their work. We all learn from each other. It’s also very important to get the right tools and stay up to date on them because that can make the world of a difference.



What does your average day look like?

I wake up and drink some tasty iced coffee and spend time in God’s word. After that I’m ready for the day and I go on to check on what work I have for a company I do part time graphics work for. After that is done I utilize the free time I have to jump into doing any kind of art whether it be painting, drawing, hand lettering, graphic design, etc. I pretty much do that on and off and also fit the rest of the schooling that I have left into my day. Then, my husband comes home and we hang out. He may play some music while I work on my art…then the day is done!

Here’s some  fun personal questions

If you had a million dollars what would you do with it?

If I had a million dollars, I’d pay my parents’ house off and let them retire and do whatever they want to do with the rest of their lives. Then I would travel for a year to wherever I wanted with my husband and whoever else wanted to come. I would use the rest to buy everything I would need to start an awesome business.

What’s your most recent go to favorite food/restaurant?

Chickfila or this place called Zeus (Greek and Lebanese) If they had a Korean restaurant where I lived it would be that…well, if they were good!

What music have you been listening to lately?

Bethel-Synthesia (It’s a No words album), Us the Duo, Random Jazz

What tv show have you been watching?

Arrested Development

What’s the latest movie that inspired you?

Zootopia was artistically a beautiful movie and it was actually really funny.

Share with us something most people don’t know about you?

If I could start life over, I’d be a professional dancer.

What have you been doing for fun? A current hobby?

Decorating my house! It’s so much fun.

What’s your process look like when you are creating?

I’m usually really excited to just start drawing in my sketchbook so I get my markers, pencils, and pens out and just start going at it. I like thinking of phrases or quotes to draw about or just certain things going on in my life. It either ends up with me drawing something, painting, or turning my drawings into graphics and making a design out of that. Music usually is a great addition to the creative process but sometimes it’s nice to just create in silence.

What question should I have asked you that I didn’t? And go ahead and answer it.

What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Fried Lizard. It tastes better than fried chicken.

My name is Jennifer Lee Hester and I was born in Petersburg, Virginia. I was raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I was recently married to my husband Luke and we’re loving the married life. I love being an artist and I am especially in love with arts, crafts, hand lettering and design. I am currently in the process of opening Jszolis Art & Design to pursue my dreams of being an artist. I hope that through my talents I can share the word of God and support missions around the world.

Follow Jenn on Instagram @jszolisartanddesign

Linky Wednesday 09.07.16

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So… I noticed a couple of weeks ago that the tile in the bathroom near the toilet seemed “squishy”  I wondered if maybe it’s always been like that.  I took note of where it seemed squishy and told Jess about it and said that if I felt like the squishyness was expanding that I’d take a deeper look into things.  I checked in the basement under the bathroom and found lots of orange and black mold.  I removed the insulation and wiped it down with bleach.  A couple weeks later Jess said she was noticing the squishyness too so I went back down to the basement and found that where the toilet pipe came down the wood had cracked.


I’ve not a handy man bone in my body.  We asked a friend to come over and look at it for us.  He thought we could just cut out a small area of mold in the subfloor and be done with it.  But as he got into the project he realized that joists needed to be replaced and this house has just layers of stuff built on top of one another, so under the moldy subfloor was another layer of plywood and underneath that was tile in concrete.  All of this had to be torn out.  The bathroom floor was so uneven, more than an inch off from corner to corner.

When we asked him how much he wanted to be paid for the work he insisted that he would not charge us, and “that’s what friends are for.”  It’s so humbling to be on the receiving end of a gift that you couldn’t pay back.  If we were to hire someone to do this work it would have cost thousands.

We needed a jig saw so I called a neighbor to see if he had one, he didn’t, but called another neighbor who I had never met, and he walked it over to our house.  It was amazing to see the outpouring of neighborly generosity.  Our neighbor with the jigsaw stayed for a while and shaved a ton of time off the project.  We had the electricity turned off because we had to replace some of the joists and running through those joists was electrical wire.  The neighbor brought over wire testers for us which allowed us to get the electricity back on.  And then although he could not physically help a lot, he gave direction to us on how to get the joists up using 2×4’s and leverage instead of just trying to hammer it into place.  I was so blessed to see the outpouring of neighborly love, and the generations working together.  The older neighbor sharing his wisdom, which my friend received with the typical southern honor of “yes sir.”  The neighbor came into check on us again and complimented my friend “You’re doing a good job, son.”  It was beautiful.

I’ve been sick twice in the past month… I think I know why.  We’re making good progress and are hoping to be having things back up and running soon.



We go through seasons where things are REALLY slow… and then seasons where things are slamming busy.  September is BUSY.  We just started 3 new RED SCHOOLS, tonight we are kicking off the local one in Clarksville TN, and last week we started one in Livingston TN and Russellville KY and are wrapping up a 4th in Elkton KY.

Here’s a photo of Jess teaching Inductive Bible Study in Elkton Kentucky.



Bought this guy on amazon recently.  The mosquitos are CRAZY this summer.

Please remember we’re AMAZON AFFILIATES.  :)


OH MY GOODNESS!  After 7 months we just posted a NEW episode of Doing Ministry Well.  Click below to hear the episode and check out the new webpage:)

%22maybe there is a gift laying dormant in another person that you need to be pulling out.%22

Did you find something in this week’s Linky Wednesday useful?  Please click the LIKE and SHARE button below!  

A Healthy Tension

So last week I talked about how God is a generous giver, and I ended that blog post by saying that we are to be LIKE Him in that way.

I wrote in a ministry update a few months ago explaining my internal struggle being a homeowner.  It’s hard for me to spend money decorating my home when other people don’t have homes.  Obviously the issue of homelessness is much bigger than that.

I also feel a healthy tension when it comes to entertainment.  How do we spend lots of money on being entertained, when other people around the world are dying from lack of basic needs.

Is having a well decorated home a sin?  No.  Is spending some money on entertainment a sin?  No.

But it is a problem if not proportioned correctly.  And there’s no magic formula.  I believe it requires going to the Lord and asking Him directly, is there an area of my life that you want me to sacrifice for a season so that others could benefit?

Christ died for us while we were yet sinners.  There was inherit risk in His ultimate sacrifice.  He gave a gift and we’ve dragged it through the mud and spit on it.  Yet He still gave.

Let’s use wisdom in giving.  But let’s also be led by His spirit when giving too.  Sometimes faith and foolishness look very similar, and the only thing separating it is God’s voice telling us to do it.

Here’s a good article I saw recently along these lines:  Missionaries Are Supposed To Suffer So Am I Allowed To Buy An Air Conditioner

How do you balance your giving and entertainment?  Let us know in the comments