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Tinellis: The year of leather

By: ellis j. still

On Monday, August 1st, 2011, my wife Tina and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. This year we spent our anniversary close to home, and low key. We had already done an extensive amount of traveling thus far this year, and so we felt like we needed to pace ourselves. Year three of marriage is the gift of leather. I got Tina a new leather case for her IPad 2, and she got me a custom leather golf club cover for my driver. She cooked a ridiculous breakfast (I fell asleep on the couch afterwards) and surprised me with an anniversary dinner of all of my favorite foods (short ribs, mac-n-cheese, blueberry cheesecake, etc.). We spent time at the movies, seeing the new Smurf movie (we spent the entire next few days speaking in Smurf), and Transformers 3 (interesting how they integrated Star Trek with Transformers – “The needs of the many…”). Peanut was his usual unconditional loving self, wanting a lick our faces every time Tina and I kissed, and turning every hug into a group hug. Life cannot possibly get any better than this for Tinellis.

Yet also, this was a time of reflection. We are three years in, and have grown in many ways, both as individuals, and as a unit. There have been many times of laughter, and many times of pain. Many areas of strength and many areas of weakness. Many prayers have been answered, and many prayers that we continue to act in faith on.

I realize that there are many couples out there with stories to tell about how they have maintained their marriages for many more years than we have been married. Yet part of my point is to reiterate the fact that marriage is great. The world tends to paint a picture of marriage as a ball-and-chain mentality, and emphasizes how common divorce is. However marriage can be fun and joyous. Like anything in life, marriage is what you make it. I am having more fun as a married person than I have had my entire life. When Tina and I were dating and considering marriage, we had a conversation early on where we made a deliberate and conscious decision that there will be no divorce, and that we will continue to grow as a family in Christ.

When I think back on the past three years, these are some things that I have learned:

  • compromise means that everybody wins
  • it is important to maintain a balance between work, love, and play
  • keeping God as the head of your marriage is the single most important thing you can do to keep your marriage vibrant and prosperous
  • staying active in ministry / church activities is an important way to stay connected for spiritual growth

Question: What are you declaring your marriage to be?  How are you and your spouse guarding your relationship against divorce? Any thoughts?

© 2011, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


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Love gives, Lust takes

by: ellis j. still 

I participate in a youth ministry group with kids ages from 13 through high school once a month. This past weekend, we had a conversation about dating and marriage. Over the past few days I realized that many adults are having similar questions and issues as it relates to dating, so I figured I would share part of the conversation and some additional thoughts.

The concept of “dating” is a relatively new concept. Up until the early 20th century, people used courtship as a way to find one’s spouse. Courtship is a way to ensure that the man and woman are equally yoked. The object of courtship is to start slow with friendship, with the goal being  marriage. When a couple dates, they tend to show the best side of themselves so as to impress who they are dating. Starting as friends allows both people to get to know each other without any pressure, and you get to see who a person is in every season of their life and how they react to those seasons. Are they violent when things do not go right? Are they impatient? Is their walk with Christ really what it appears to be? Do they have emotional or psychological scars from previous relationships that could carry over into another relationship? It there untruthfulness? All of these things, without prying or asking questions, will come to light in time. Therefore, being patient and starting out as friends is an important part of finding out who you would want to spend the rest of your life with.

Dating to find your mate is a relatively new concept. Dating is nothing more than experimentation. The idea is that you try this and you try that and you will find what you want somewhere in there, but that almost never happens. You see other people date, and you want to try it out, but what you don’t see behind the scenes is how much dating hurts. Peer pressure to have sex (and drugs, etc…), lowering your standards (giving in and having sex), STD’s, the hurt feelings and emotional trauma from being in and out of relationships that are not equally yoked, being gossiped about, and not being used to sticking by one person no matter what (lack of commitment) are all byproducts of dating which leave scars that will follow you into marriage and often causes divorce. Dating is designed to make marriages fail. In our mind, we tend to think that dating is about being with just one person exclusively, but more often than not, there is no endgame in mind and as a result, we do not identify and stick to standards within the relationship and we kind of go with the flow.

Dating leads to intimacy, not commitment, and often mistakes physical relationships for love. Love gives, and lust takes. The definition of love is “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). This is the true God given definition of love, yet most people for some reason do not believe, or truly buy into the notion of real love in their heart. Instead, we use the word love haphazardly and casually, which cancels its power and deteriorates its true meaning.

Many of the things that adults deal with emotionally stem from decisions they made as a teenager or in grade school. This was also the case with me. I had to conquer emotional baggage, low esteem, fear, and a host of other issues as a result of not only being in and out of relationships, but being in and out of relationships with the wrong people and not having a relationship with Christ in my life. When I rekindled my relationship with Christ and started back going to church, I didn’t want to date. I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I wanted to heal. I wanted the scars to go away. I was tired of living how I was living, and I wanted to be right with God. But while I was I the midst of growing and not looking for a relationship, God sent me an angel… God sent me my wife.

On Saturday one of the kids asked “how do you know when God is speaking to you”? You just know. When Tina and I first met, it felt natural, as if we knew each other since the third grade. There were no airs, no false pretenses… just us being us having a conversation, which grew into more conversations. We had a discussion early on that our goal was not to date, but to see if this is something that could lead to marriage. We were patient, and our first kiss was on our wedding day. I know some you have heard me tell this story before, but I never get tired of telling it. God really kept me through all I went through in my life, yet when I finally woke up and made the decision to do things His way, extraordinary things started to happen to and for me in my life.

Till death do us part  :- )

Question: Have you set a standard from which to live your life, or are you slowly killing yourself by following behind what everyone else around you is doing? When is the last time you asked yourself, “what did Jesus say about…”

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved 


Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails. Thanks, and have a great day!!!

Marriage: Year One

by ellis j. still

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I have never had as much fun as I am having with my wife. When my wife and I met, it was as if we were best friends since grade school. It felt natural, and we were patient (at the bequest of our pastor). Being happily married is all about figuring things out… it’s not like we have been married before, and so every day brings about a new set of challenges. The following are some of the things that we have learned during the first year:

1.) Ignore people: We learned to not listen to people when they say the joy and happiness within our marriage will not last, and that it will be reduced to mundane and lifeless. Many people have developed a skeptic attitude towards their marriage (and marriage in general), and will seek to speak negative “wisdom” into your marriage because either their vision of marriage is not where it ought to be, or they did not put the work in to take/keep their marriage to the next level.

2.) Date night: Tina and I met on August 24, 0000 at a mutual church friend’s birthday gathering. That was a special day for us, so we set aside the 24th of every month as date night – ‘us’ night.

3.) LOL (Laugh Out Loud): We laugh a lot. We generally do not crack jokes against one another (although I may slide one in there from time to time), yet we somehow seem to find ways to laugh. It comes natural to us. Even when we are confronted with life situations, somewhere in there is a reason to laugh. We have been known to laugh into the early hours of morning, knowing full well that we have work in the morning.

4.) We do things together: It is a rare occasion where you see one of us without the other. In fact we now have a nickname in the singular – “Tinellis”, short for Tina and Ellis, which was given to us by Tina’s big sister. We have also developed hobbies together, through local and regional stage theatre.

5.) Figuring out our love languages: With me it’s the Philadelphia Eagles. With Tina it’s New York Giants. With me it’s action (common among guys). With Tina it’s discussion (common among women – that’s what Tina said). With me it’s ensuring that Tina is safe personally. With Tina it’s making sure there are people around me to ensure I’m safe. With me it’s working on the business. With Tina it’s snuggling on the couch. With me it’s eating dinner. With Tina it’s cooking dinner. With me it’s cheese steaks from Wadsworth Pizza in Philadelphia, PA. With Tina it’s Dicky Dee’s deep-fried Italian hot dogs in Newark NJ. When she has a challenging day at work, she has a certain demeanor and look on her face, so know I need to focus on her and be prepared to listen. When I have a challenging day at work, Tina says I kind of mope around and she has to coax it out of me. With me it’s Ephesians 11:1-2. With Tina it’s 1 Cor 13:4-7. This list just touches the surface. These are the things that we acknowledged to each other that make us unique as individuals, so that we may be mindful of each other’s thoughts and feelings. When you marry, two people becomes one, yet there are two entirely different sets of life experiences and traits that have to be accounted for that comes with us as individuals. Every day we are still learning new things about each other, which makes life interesting, fun, and different than the day before.

© 2009, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved

Hello world!!! Welcome and thank you for visiting what will become an extension of me… being transparent with my thoughts, my emotions, my growth, and things that I have learned in life that I can pass on to others. I will rely heavily on your input into the various posts, as much of the writing is meant to also create dialog. Please be patient as I continue to learn and build up the site. In the beginning I will start out slow until I can build up momentum, with the goal of posting four to five times per week in the areas of book reviews, entrepreneurship, leadership, marriage life, and communities. Thanks again for visiting, and I look forward to connecting!!!


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