Chipped Cups and a Thankful Heart

kitchen sink

There’s a routine that happens in our house several times every day – perhaps it looks similar at yours.  It’s the washing and cleaning up after a meal. Most people don’t relish scraping lasagna off dinner plates, deciding which Rubbermaid container will hold the remains of the tossed salad, getting all the dishes into the already-full dishwasher or cleaning out the drips on the oven floor, but it all must be done.  The blessing of these tasks at my house is that I never work alone.  My thoughtful husband works alongside me until the towel is folded over the edge of the sink and the kitchen light is turned off.  It sounds like a pleasant scene, doesn’t it?  It truly is, and I try to thank my spouse often for his diligent efforts to help me with this daily chore.

But I haven’t always been the smiling spouse and happy housewife during this task.  As ungrateful as it sounds, there have been times when I’ve corrected him for the way he was handling the dishes.  He’s a big guy with big hands, and my dishes have often cringed under the force of being picked up or set down in a not-so-gentle way.

Of course, it was my duty to tell him, right?

Only if I wanted to crush his spirit about helping, when he could have been off doing any number of far more important things than washing my “riches.”

Only if I wanted to hush the chatter we had been having while we worked side by side in our sudsy love.

Only if I wanted to make him feel like my son instead of my husband, my leader, the head of our home, and the provider of the very home in which we were working.

Only if I valued my possessions more than a happy marriage.

But I did it and I regretted it. I confessed it to my God and to my hard-working, strong husband.

I decided after that that it was far better to work together, each of us happily humming, talking, teasing, laughing, and loving, than to be doing this triple-day duty by myself just so I could keep my dishes – my riches – without any nicks.

God knew I would need this reminder and He put it in the form of a proverb –

Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great riches and trouble therewith.

Proverbs 15:16

Yes, it’s better to have plates with a hairline crack, a bowl put in the wrong cupboard, or a set of eight glasses that only number seven now, than to have a perfect set of dishes without the comradery that happens when we work together with right hearts.

My dishes were my “riches” that proverbs mentions.  What’s yours? What form of perfection or higher standard comes between accepting gracious help or refusing it?  If your husband attempts to help you at home, do you appreciate his efforts, or do you demand perfection?  Do you accept his help, or ask him to go do something else so the task will be done the way you want it accomplished?  Maybe you need to remind yourself, as I had to do, of the blessing of a man who will be kind enough to offer a hand.  Think about whether you’d rather be sitting at home alone with your “riches” around you, or  living happily as one, with a little less “riches.”

I think many wives must come to grips with this truth.  So, if this rings true in your heart, know that you’re not alone.  Our sinful heart wants our way, instead of the wonder of a sweet marriage that comes when two people work together with happy hearts.

When it’s all said and done, what’s left of my dishes may only be chipped cups and splintered saucers, but if my heart is full of gratitude instead of grumbling, there will also be a whole lot of love that got splashed up in the soapy process.

That’s what I’m going for.

How about you?  What are the “riches” that are causing you to be demanding and critical instead of thankful for your spouse?  Ask God to help you exchange that criticism for gratefulness. Then smile while you sip your coffee from that chipped cup!

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Date Time!

There are lots of fun things to do on date days/nights, but last week, I got to enjoy a really special treat that was a bit of a sacrifice for my husband to pull off. Going to the Biltmore Inn for afternoon tea is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, so as a belated birthday gift, he took me!

HE TOOK ME!!

The sacrifice came in that my husband doesn’t even like hot tea.  He’s a coffee guy, but he went.

He poured tea.

He drank tea.

It’s also a pretty fancy affair.  While I know he’d much rather be hiking an Appalachian Trail, he was happy to take me on this fun adventure!  That’s what marriage is all about – giving of yourself for the other.  It meant all the more to me  because he went and had such a sweet spirit about it.  He didn’t roll his eyes and grimace; he enjoyed it for me.  That made it all the more fun, of course!

The experience at the Inn did not disappoint!  It was regal.  It was delicious.  It was romantic.  It was a memory-maker!  Let me show you what we enjoyed!

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A sweet Doorman greeted us.
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The menu for the tea, and the beautiful setting at the table.

 

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We could read our menu card, and it had listed in order each appetizer on our plate.  So good!!!

 

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The cheese and sweets tray.  Delicious!

 

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Sweeteners for our tea.

 

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Proof that you can still be a man and pour a cup of tea!

 

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We enjoyed walking around the Inn afterwards.  It’s stunning…and so was my company!
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Even outside, there is beauty all around!

I have two points in my post today:

  1. If you ever have the opportunity to enjoy Afternoon Tea somewhere, do it!  It’s expensive, but it’s a treat that is worth the money and the time.
  2. Be willing to be stretched for your spouse.  This made me love my husband all the more.  He did this for me because he knew I’d love it.  The reservation was made several weeks before and I got to anticipate and look forward to this for days!  Now the memory of it all is tucked away in my heart, filled with admiration for a man who’s not too proud or selfish to do something just for me!  I’m looking for the opportunity to return the favor!!  It will be fun, and I’m sure it will include hiking, sweating and burning calories, rather than adding a few, but that’s okay!  Our marriage is worth it!

What event could you plan to do this week to sacrifice for your spouse and spend time together?  

Refresh your marriage with sacrifice,

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Talking To Your Spouse with Grace

 

 

couple aThe phone rang and she answered it. The change in her tone was blatantly obvious to everyone in the room.  This wife went from bubbly/friendly to irritated/annoyed.  “Who was on the other end of the phone?” we wondered.  Then she said his name and we learned that it was her husband.

This scenario happened in the public setting of a business.  My heart sank when I realized that when this lady heard her husband’s voice, instead of being glad to hear from him, she was irritated.  His call interrupted her.  His questions annoyed her. And his needs overwhelmed her.  She was only too happy to hang up and move on with the people around her and the business at hand.

But I cannot point a finger at her because the rest of my hand is pointing back at me.  It’s easy to get a call from Dale and answer casually instead of enthusiastically.  Do you ever get caught up in the day-to-day routine as I do and forget the special bond you share with your spouse?  Consider the difference between answering the phone with,

“Yeah, whatcha’ need?”

Or

Hi Sweetheart!  I’m glad to hear from you!

What about when he asks you a question and you answer him for the second or third time?  Does each answer get louder and more aggravated? Remember how you loved his name when you were dating?  Do you say it with as much tenderness now?

Last week my brother-in-law was working his job inspecting roofs, as he has done for many years now.  The early morning dew was still on the back half of the house, making the surface slippery.  His work would be quick and he planned to climb down in just a minute, but just as that thought was flying through his mind, his foot slipped and he could feel himself falling.  He grabbed the gutter of the house, helping to break his fall, but only a little.  He was taken by ambulance to the Medical Center in the area where he was treated in the Emergency Room for his many broken bones.  Praise the Lord for sparing his life!

As my sister and I walked the hospital halls together, we discussed the abruptness of any calamity.  No one plans for it.  No one puts, “Visit husband in trauma unit” in their planner, but life as we know it can be changed in a moment. We all know that, but we move on each day as though we are ignorant of that truth, and we blurt out unkind phrases and words like an umpire at a ballgame.

Remember the woman I mentioned at the beginning of this post?  The one who changed her disposition when her husband called?  Sadly, I learned the news of her husband’s death and I wondered if she ever wished she could talk to him again, with a completely different frame of mind? Did she ever wish he would interrupt her busy day by calling her?

If you knew that this was your last day with our spouse, would you use a different tone when we answered his call?  Would you use kinder words when responding to his questions?  Would your repeated answer be more patient?  Even if we knew we had 50 more years together, wouldn’t we want our relationship to epitomize tenderness, kindness and sacrificial love?  These are all words of grace – what we receive from the Lord every day.  It’s what might not be deserved, but we give it, because that is how we are loved and spoken to by our Savior.

I know I need to make some changes in order to fill my husband’s ears with words of grace. How about you?  Excuse me while I answer my phone…

Hi Sweetheart! I’m glad to hear from you!

If we asked others what they hear when we speak to our spouse, what would they say? What would our husband say?  It’s all about grace.

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Looking For a Bandaged Finger

Image result for band aidDwight Marrow, the father of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, once held a dinner party to which Calvin Coolidge had been invited. After Coolidge left, Morrow told the remaining guests that Coolidge would make a good president. The others disagreed. They felt Coolidge was too quiet, that he lacked color and personality. No one would like him, they said. Anne, then age six, spoke up: “I like him,” she said. Then she displayed a finger with a small bandage around it.

“He was the only one at the party who asked about my sore finger. “

Showing a bit of compassion to a person makes a huge difference! Jude 22 says, “And of some having compassion, making a difference.” While we understand that this verse is speaking about using compassion to bring back those that have gone astray in apostasy, it has challenged my heart as to how all ministry is to be done, if it’s to accomplish what the Lord would desire.

There are two ways to do ministry – in the flesh and in the Spirit. When we serve the Lord in the Spirit we will respond in compassionate ways to the needs around us.
Would you really want an uncaring nurse to administer your shots to you?
Would you appreciate your hostess responding to you in a hostile manner when she learns you have some dietary restrictions?
Would you want to be greeted by a cold, unfeeling church member when you’re in the midst of a trial?

We are given a wonderful example of compassion in Acts 9. The character is Dorcas, a follower of Christ’s. She was known by the good works she had done for the widows. After she fell sick and died, the women mourned her death so much that they sent for Peter. Surely he could do something for her! Here’s a lesson in itself. What will others say when you and I die? Would we be missed so much that others would pray for our resurrection? Would our absence in our home, church, and community leave a void? We are each preaching our funeral while we live!

When Peter arrived they spread out the coats and garments that Dorcas had made for them; this was the demonstration of her compassion for these widows. If all our compassionate efforts were spread out in front of others what would we have to show?

  • Would there be evidence that we cared, that we:
    • took time to provide a meal for someone?
    • That we had graciously spent time writing a note of encouragement to someone in the midst of a difficulty?

It’s so easy to get caught up in our own little world that we miss out on opportunities to show compassion. Dorcas made the Gospel believable by her acts of mercy, coupled with a heart that moved her efforts along like the current of a waterfall. Her life was constantly pouring out good works. We know that these works don’t save a person. We could never do enough good to pay the ransom for our soul. Christ did that on the cross. Our works, however, show that our faith is not dead (James 2:26b).

There are many opportunities for us to link arms and show compassion. We can encourage each other  first in our individual homes (sometimes the easiest place to neglect). Our efforts should then run to the church and then our community.

Be alert to the opportunities that the Lord brings your way. Someone out there has a “bandaged finger”; let’s find them and minister to them, and in so doing make the Gospel believable!

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Best Friends in Marriage

The posts have been about friendship this week, we can’t forget our BEST earthly friend and the importance of maintaining  our relationship with him!

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Yesterday found my husband and me in the basement going through some boxes of “stuff.” Stuffed animals, old toys, pictures, school annuals, dolls, dishes, and books were sorted through. I was down there for several hours – not because I got so much accomplished, necessarily, but because when I go through old things it brings back memories and I have to stop and reflect! My husband and I passed many pictures back and forth to one another. “Oh, remember this?” “Look at us! How hilarious!” (You will not be seeing any of those pictures posted here!) Not only did we recall many special times from our past, but it was a sweet time together recounting good memories and numerous blessings.

I also leafed through a couple of the books that I hadn’t read in a while. One book was on marriage and there was a chapter on being best friends with your mate. The highlights were how important it is to spend time together having fun, talking, sharing your heart, and being open with one another. I smiled – we had done that even in a cool basement on Memorial Day when most of our neighbors were probably out at the lake or at the park having a picnic with their extended family. We had shared secret memories of times and places when notes were found written in our handwriting. We’d laughed. We’d talked about times when our girls were growing up. This is what friends do.

Dari Ace

After we’d had our grilled hamburgers later in the evening, we headed out for a drive through the countryside. Opening the sun roof on the car, the warm air blew through as we pointed at beautiful homes, the clouds over the mountain or a row of flags in a front yard. We even stopped for an ice cream at Dari ace – so cute! It was a great end to a fun day spent with my best friend.

Are you still best friends with your husband? Are you spending time together? I don’t mean time living – I mean time just being together. What tone of voice do you use when you speak to him or repeat an answer to his question? Is it the tone that one would use with their best friend? God gave Adam a wife so he would have a companion. Are you and I being the best kind of completer that we could possibly be? Best friends give each other the benefit of the doubt, love when no one else loves, and enjoy just doing little things together. Is your husband the one you spend that kind of time with? Don’t replace his companionship with that of your girlfriend, sister or parents. That is not God’s plan for a married woman.

I am planning on re-reading that book I found. It was a good reminder for me. We all need to be encouraged in what a godly marriage looks like. I’m thankful for a day in the basement that helped me to be refreshed in the friendship part of our marriage!

With love,

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P.S. I believe the book I was referring to is, The Ministry of Marriage, by Jim Binney.

Help Your Husband Live Joyfully With You!

I’m posting later in the day, but we just returned from an evening away. Read on and you’ll see what we did and what a special time it was!

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It was early evening and we had just finished a simple supper of BLT’s, a summer favorite. My husband pulled his Bible out of his book bag and told me he had something he wanted to read to me that he had read earlier that morning. We were spending an afternoon and night away at a lake cottage, just to have some quiet time to study, pray and be together on his day off. A boat or two rumbled past on the not-so-far-away lake as he opened to Ecclesiastes 9 and read about 6 verses, concluding with this verse:

Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity, but that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

When he finished reading, he closed his Bible, nodded and smiled at me. As I looked at him I thought about how well he does that. He lives joyfully with me every day!

  • I saw it earlier when we were preparing to travel to the lake. He was coming to pick me up from my dentist appointment and sent a text to tell me he would be late.
  • When we stopped to pick up a salad for lunch, he brought the beverages to the car – a water for himself and diet Lemonade for me (my favorite).
  • As we made our way to the lake, he chatted, telling me the reason he was late – the opportunity to share Christ with a man. I love it when he shares his day, his burdens and his life.
  • He reached over and took my hand and said, “I sure love you!”
  • Later in the afternoon as we sat overlooking the lake, he said how thankful he was we could spend an afternoon together. Tears welled up in his eyes as he said, “Sometimes I just miss you so much.”
  • Even after our simple BLT supper, no fuss, no special recipe, he said, “That was so good; thank you, Sweetheart.”

Live joyfully with your wife – that’s what he does every single day. I am so blessed.

Why am I sharing this with you today? To boast? No. Even as I write out this list of only some of what he did in just ONE day, it is a stern reminder that I could make it so much easier for him to obey that Scripture if I was also living joyfully every day. There are days I just feel cantankerous! I’m often Fussy, griping, and complaining instead of joy-filled.

If I would laugh at his spontaneity, smile at disruptions, appreciate kindnesses, and live as though there was no tomorrow, I’ll bet it would help him to live even more joyfully with his wife. And maybe I couldn’t even believe there could be so much joy, and wouldn’t that be awesome?!

  • What do you need to change to help your husband live joyfully with you?
    MAYBE:
    Take the drive he suggests, even though you know you’ll be motion-sick on those curves.
    If he initiates a kiss in public don’t push him away.
    Leave the children with a sitter for an hour or two so you can sneak away for a date.
    Hold hands, rub his back, smile at him, send him a loving text message, ask him questions about his day, and really listen when he talks to you,
    Be understanding of his need for physical love.
    Tell him thank you for the ways he provides for your family.
    Pray with him before he leaves home.
    Be waiting at the door for him when he returns home in the evening.
    Get up and spend time with him before he leaves for work, if possible.
    Surprise him with a night away for just the two of you.
    Decide with God’s help not to fall apart when the next disaster strikes.

Let’s help our husbands obey the admonition to live joyfully with his wife by being joyful, too! Now, put a smile on your face and in your heart, and go share that joy with HIM!

Refresh your husband,

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Ten Choices That Will Help Get Your Marriage to the Finish Line

0427170702aHappy Friday y’all!  I’m here today with a brand new post as we finish out this week talking about marriage.  So far this week we’ve discussed roller coaster days, making more deposits in your relationship than withdrawals, and the high cost of foolish choices. Today I want to talk about wise choices and how they will effect your home.

Many women were so very grieved this week to hear of a well-loved Bible teacher announcing her divorce to her husband.  Serious infidelity and substance abuse got a grip in her husband’s life, bringing their marriage to an end.  I don’t know all the details, of course, but it has impacted the world with its sad ending.  I’m afraid that some women will hear that, and then feel helpless themselves.

“If her marriage is falling apart, and she’s a famous Bible teacher, how can I ever hope to have a happy marriage?

When you consider the trials, the disagreements, the financial woes, the verbal misunderstandings, the pride, the emotions, the daily pressures, and the parenting conflicts, it’s a miracle that any marriage survives, but it can!  

But how?  I believe with all my heart it’s  through the presence of the Lord and His guidance, His example of love, and the counsel of His Word that allows a Christian couple to remain together for a lifetime.

Satan wants to destroy our homes, but God is greater, friends!  I’d like to share with you some choices we have to make to see our marriage to the Finish Line.

  1. Stay on your knees in prayer for your mate and your marriage.  Think about it – if you’re not praying for your husband, who is? Pray for ~
    • His heart for God
    • His purity
    • His protection from Satan’s attacks
    • A tender heart to sin
    • A fear of God
    • A desire for God’s house
    • His leadership in your home – Note:  Talk to the Lord about this – not him!
  2. Keep the fun in your relationship.  Don’t stop laughing, flirting, dancing in the grocery store aisle, or any of the things that made you smile when you were dating!
  3. As your children grow up, release more and more of that attention they were getting and lavish it on your husband!  A wife who makes her children the center of her attention even after they’re able to care for themselves is pushing her husband out of her life, and that is a dangerous action.
    • Send the child back to their bed.
    • Put them on a schedule and spend time with your husband.
    • Leave them with a caregiver and go on dates.
    • Be excited about your empty nest rather than crying on Facebook about how you miss your little boys! I know I’m stepping out on a limb on that one, but I love you, ladies, and someone needs to tell you to build a bridge and get over it.
    • Don’t make your children the center of your world – make your husband the center.  Doing so will give your children the security of parents who love each other and are going to stay together forever.
  4. Keep the tenderness in your relationship.
    • Use tender words, rather than angry, cross ones.
      • Make sure your conversation is more than about who’s picking up the gallon of milk.
    • Use tender touches.  Hold hands.  Kiss goodbye and hello.  You never know when that might be your last kiss.  We’re not promised tomorrow!
  5. Be first.  To forgive.  To serve.  To love.
  6. Be thoughtful.  Pick up his favorite treat.  Make a nourishing breakfast before he leaves.  Ask what he would like for supper.  Ask if there’s an errand you can do for him, or a way to lighten his load.
  7. Do what he enjoys doing on his day off.  I”m not much of a hiker, but I think my husband’s favorite date in recent years was a January birthday hike I planned, complete with a picnic lunch of homemade soup in Mason jars..  It was freezing cold and snowy., but we had so much fun!
  8. Make plans for the days ahead.  Doing so says, “I’m planning on spending all my life with you, and it’s going to be wonderful!  What do you want to be like as you age?  What trips could you dream about?  What goals could you write down and look forward to as your lives change in the years ahead?
  9. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses as to why you prefer to be slouchy at home.  It is possible to be comfortable and look great for your husband.   I’ve seen one too many videos of wives saying, “Yeah, my hair looks awful; I haven’t washed it in a week.”  Really?  Shampoo is cheap, and it doesn’t really take that long to get your hair cleaned.  Men are visual – give him something great to look at!
  10. Make a play list of all the love songs you listened to while dating.  Let your hearts spin along with the music and remember where it all started between you both!

Because there is a God in heaven, there is hope for our marriages.  Don’t let yourself feel in despair or like there is no chance that your marriage can be awesome!  Which of these suggestions do you need to start on?  Ask God to help you and see what a difference it can make in your home!

Refresh your marriage!

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