Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day: A Fresh Perspective

Is love not one of the greatest gifts on this earth? I think most would agree that it is. This is why it's so funny to me that people tend to hate Valentine's Day so much. It's a day to celebrate love, so if we all think love is one of the greatest things in the world, why oh why would we hate a full day to celebrate it?

I think the answer comes down to the fact that Valentine's Day has become this day where most ladies think they have to have a significant other who gives them sweet gifts in order for it to be a good day & most guys feel so much pressure to give the perfect gift even though they feel like this holiday is just an American marketing scheme to sell lots of flowers and chocolates.  It doesn't have to be any of that.

Singles: this can be a day where you reflect on all the love in your life... the people you love and have loved, and the people you will love in the future. Call a family members and talk about how much you love each other and what fond memories you have together. Have dinner with a best friend and tell them how much their friendship means to you. Have a party with all your friends and celebrate love in general. Or... and this is a great option... spoil yourself! Go get a massage or a pedicure and then treat yourself to your favorite ice cream and watch your favorite movie. You're pretty fantastic, you know??

Taken ladies: are we putting too much pressure on our men? Have we been hinting about this fabulous holiday for weeks now and developing all kinds of expectations of all the romantic things we hope he'll do? Now that some of us have admitted to ourselves that we have done that, can we now respect why guys hate this holiday so much? Maybe they feel like they can't please us and that any gift won't be enough (even though we know this is false, they may not)? Or maybe they did something so romantic on a v~day in the past that they feel like they could never live up to that standard they set so they give up trying? How about we go into this day planning to celebrate our love and setting no expectations for what that should look like. Isn't our true objective to spend some quality time together and reflect on the beauty of our relationship, anyways? So girls, let's refocus our efforts on how to make this day special for them (since this holiday is not all about us, right?). So we want to feel extremely loved on this day because that's what energizes us, right? Does this mean men want the same things? Do they want to be taken out to eat and given nice things? Maybe… but we should also consider that according to Dr. Eggerich (author of Love & Respect), our man craves respect more than love and shoulder-to-shoulder time more than face-to-face time. This could mean lots of things… maybe your man would enjoy a nice mountain biking sesh with you. Or maybe your man is like mine and would love it if you would ride along with him while he plays 18-holes of golf. Or this could be grabbing him a cold beverage and making him dinner while he watches his basketball game or plays video games and then eating together on the couch. Ladies, if we serve our men and show them how much we appreciate them, how much more likely are they to want to spoil you when it's our turn? And hey, you might just discover a new hobby that the two of you enjoy doing together. :)

Taken guys: Have a significant other but feel so pressured by this overly-Americanized holiday that you just wanna scream and forget this day exists? Can I encourage you to pause and reflect on why you love those around you. Stop and think about if you want to bless that special someone in your life with a gift. If so, take a moment to really think about what she would love instead of running out and grabbing a dozen red roses, a box of See's and a teddy bear (although that's nice if that's what she loves). Does she like watching movies? Then go buy her favorite movie, some popcorn, a nice fluffy blanket, and some candy and wrap it all up (no the wrapping doesn't have to be pretty). Yes, that is actually enough if it's from the heart. Does she love the ocean? Then pack her a bag with sandals, a blanket and her favorite treats and take her for a walk on the sand. Hold her hand and tell her why you care about her and that you're excited about your future together. Does she love to read? Go grab the latest Nicholas Sparks novel and put it in a basket with some tissues, her favorite chocolate, some fluffy slippers and a book light. Does she adore a night on the town? Put her nicest dress out on her bed and leave her a single rose & a note saying "Hey gorgeous... You have one hour to get ready for a night on the town" then take her to her favorite restaurant, followed by a nice dessert before taking her home. Seriously, gentleman... more than anything, women want to know that you're assertive... that you notice all the little things about them and that you want to cater to their deepest desires. This will get you a lot further than grabbing a cliche gift at the last minute and only doing it because you feel pressured by society. Let this be a holiday where you let her know she is cherished and that you want to celebrate your love... simply because it's worth celebrating.

If nothing else, this should be a day of being thankful for the definition of love: God. God is love. God is the creator of love, God is the one who allows us to feel the beautiful emotion of love. He is the only One who never fails and never disappoints. I am forever grateful for His love and the beautiful picture of the ultimate act of love... the Savior dying on the cross for our sins because He loves each and every one of us more than He loved His own life. Now THAT'S something to be celebrated. So stop your moping and watching of sappy love movies and go read about God's great love if you have nothing else planned on this marvelous Valentine's Day evening. :) Love you friends.

Some verses on LOVE in the Bible: Deuteronomy 6:5, Psalm 36:7, John 16:27, 1 Corinthians 8:3, Ephesians 2:4, Ephesians 5:2, Titus 3:4, James 2:5, 1 John 4:7-16, 1 John 5:1-3

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Melt My Heart

Wow. So incredible. This gorgeous mom (Ashley) has cancer & her hair was falling out rapidly so she decided to shave her head. Her mother shaved her head before she did (as a surprise) so she wouldn't have to do it alone:


Then the whole family got together for her head shaving experience and she smiled every moment of it. She was so brave. She is donating her hair to locks of love. Her darling little daughter did the shaving until her hand got tired & her husband gave her the sweetest kiss as she lost all of her beautiful hair:

What a precious story of joy in all circumstances. I don't think I would have been able to hold it together like she did. I couldn't even hold it together while watching the video. This is an amazing blog. I'm in awe of the joy of the Lord in her heart.

Resolution 1: Is Christ the center of every area of my life?

This year I decided that instead of treating my resolutions like far off wishes that I will forget about, I will make them goals that I work toward daily & will revisit at the end of the year to see how I did. I also decided that I wouldn't be too hard on myself, as I am so great at, & I would work through these things in ways that work for me. It's often difficult for me to stick to plans, so I figured that I would have to do whatever it takes in order to find out what works for me & then create a plan based on that.

Resolution 1: Determine how to follow Christ & make him the center of every aspect of my life & marriage.
Obviously this first task can only happen by following my 2nd resolution: Get in the Word daily.
The first few weeks I was determined to wake up every day at a certain time, grab some coffee, sit outside & follow a specific reading/journaling plan. Of course, I didn't do well with this. I was struggling with the fact that I love sleep, distracted by having 3 dogs (including a baby pup that's potty training & teething), dealing with the fact that there's no such thing as silence in this neighborhood, & working through becoming disciplined enough to read through specific plans & figuring them out on my own. This lead to discouragement and feeling overwhelmed. I read little and struggled much.
After meeting with a darling friend, Emilie Hendryx, & asking her how she worked through being motivated to be in the Word, I felt very encouraged. She basically helped me understand that not everyone learns the same way & that it's ok to shape a plan based around how I learn.
So I went home & struggled with where to start. I pulled out my journal & just started reading what the Lord had been showing me in the past. I decided to go back through my journal & test myself on how much I had learned on each topic that I sifted through. If I hadn't learned something He had tried to teach me in the past, then obviously I need to keep studying & seeking Him in that area. This led me to The Beatitudes. The first of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3) says "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God." I kept reading & then felt the Lord guiding me back to that. I started pondering what it truly means to be poor in spirit & what this specifically looks like in my life. I came across this article: http://www.gospeltruth.net/1844OE/441204_poor_in_spirit.htm
It opened my eyes to a world of truth in me. I have such a strong perception of certain things, like being poor in spirit, but does it actually ring true in my life? There is no way to force yourself to become poor in spirit overnight. This is a process that occurs by recognizing the fact that we are nothing without Christ & that without Him we are filthy and no good thing can come from us. I am asking the Lord to show me the areas where I still struggle with pride, the areas where I have hidden sin or hurt that is holding me up, & I am asking Him to gently deal with my heart on these things & show me that I am nothing without His grace & sacrifice. I believe this is the first step to making Him the center of any area of my life.

Now for: Making Him the center of my marriage. 
This is the single most important area of our lives if we're married. It's the area of our lives Satan will try the hardest to destroy. It's the area that's the biggest reflection of Christ in the world. An incredible marriage is the thing in the world that most reflects God's love because it's the earthly display of God's love for us. My husband is a wonderful man of the Lord & leads us well. We still have areas of our marriage where Christ is a part of it, but maybe not the center, though. I struggled with how to accomplish taking steps toward a Christ-centered marriage while my husband is working so many long hours & doesn't have a ton of extra time to spend with me right now. I realized that this is going to look a lot more like "How can I be a better wife & in return have a better & more Christ-centered marriage?" Anytime I think about improving marriages I immediately think of Song of Solomon. Anytime I think of Song of Solomon, Mark Driscoll's series comes to mind. Since I have never actually gone through it I immediately went to the Mars Hill site & as it would turn out, he started a series called "Real Marriage" this week. God is good.
So I started that series: http://marshill.com/media/real-marriage
And The Peasant Princess series on Song of Solomon: http://marshill.com/media/the-peasant-princess
I now have many biblical tools to begin refreshing my marriage. I am going to strive to serve my husband in any way possible & to esteem him at every opportunity. This also goes hand in hand with another resolution I made - to become less selfish. It will be good practice. :)

Today I'm thanking God for bringing incredible people into my life to challenge me, for the best friend in the world - my husband, & for never giving up on me. God deserves my best & I am ready to commit to giving that to Him on a daily basis.