How to Show Love on Valentine’s Day

With love, “it’s more blessed to give than to receive.”

Valentine's DayTomorrow is Valentine’s Day. It’s not a national holiday, though for retailers selling flowers, cards, and candy it might as well be. I’m not a “pink” kind of person, and I truly get tired of pink by February 15. But love is always a good idea. And what could be a better plan than to show love on Valentine’s Day?!

I remember so well the years I spent as a single woman desperately wanting someone to show me that they cared, that I was Number One to them. Eventually I learned two things:

  • I’ve always been Number One to God. Jesus can become my Enough if I let Him.
  • Giving love to others fills my heart more reliably than always looking to receive it.

Regardless of your Relationship Status, let’s use this day to focus on giving love. And I promise your heart will be fuller than you ever thought it could be. (And don’t worry; I’m not denying loneliness and disappointment. Watch for a follow-up on that later this week.)

Hopefully you will put a little more thought into showing love than just picking up a cheap box of chocolates on your way home. Now stop moping around, get over yourself already, and prepare to show a little love! Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Continue Reading »

46 Low-Cost or No-Cost Gift Ideas for Someone you Love

It's the part of YOU that you put into the gift that counts

Christmas giftIt’s the season for giving! And merchants everywhere are only too ready to suggest the perfect gift – if only you part with a hefty chunk of your money.

But you know only too well that money doesn’t usually equal meaning. What’s important is how much of YOU you put into the gift.

At last week’s gathering of the monthly prayer group I’m a part of, one of the members brought small containers of hand-made fudge for everyone. It’s delicious, and I’m still enjoying it! Her gift cost almost nothing – except her thoughtful caring and a little time.

So in the spirit of giving, here are a bunch of low-cost gift ideas. Many of them don’t cost a dime! But they will cost a piece of your heart. That’s what makes the difference anyway.

Remember too that few things will lift your own spirits more during this holiday season than planning and giving something to someone that truly shows how much you care – whether it’s your spouse, your child, or someone else you love.

Gift Ideas for Someone You Love

For Your Spouse

Continue Reading »

Three Unusual Things I’m Grateful For

Happy Thanksgiving!

Heavenly LightIn the United States we are celebrating Thanksgiving today. It’s the least commercialized of our national holidays – at least until the stores open this evening. For a few hours the focus is on friends, family, and gratitude.

This holiday season is bitter-sweet for me. It’s my first Thanksgiving without my husband Al. I’m still profoundly grateful this year, but the focus of my gratitude has shifted. It feels deeper, even more real than before.

That’s why I’d like to share with you three things I’m grateful for that may seem surprising. Perhaps this will help you see some things you are grateful for as well.

  1. The grief process.

Grief hurts. There’s no way to make death OK. It’s never OK. God didn’t create you and me to live and then die; we were created to live forever!

But the process I have gone through in grieving my husband’s death has made me a deeper person. As a result, there’s more substance to who I am, what I write, and what I have to offer others. I’m not alone in this; others who have experienced grief and loss sometimes tell how life has become more meaningful as a result.

I’m not grateful that my husband is dead. But I am grateful for the gift of his life, who he was to me and to others, and how our marriage matured me. And I am profoundly grateful for who I have become as a result of the grief process God has taken me through since that day. I know that process will continue.

Continue Reading »

10 Ways to Show Respect to Your Spouse

Help your spouse FEEL respected

Couple WalkingA marriage without respect will not thrive. But sometimes it’s hard to know how to show respect to your spouse.

Where respect falls in the hierarchy of needs and desires may differ somewhat between men and women, but it’s a vital need for both sexes. Not demonstrating respect to your spouse will kill any real intimacy between you. Without respect you cannot be – and feel – connected to each other.

As a wife, you may feel as though your husband should earn your respect before you offer it. But if the situation were reversed, would you want him to demand you earn his love before he offers it to you? Showing respect for him should be a gift you voluntarily offer whenever possible.

As a husband, you may not realize how much the degree to which you show respect to your wife causes her spirit to either shrivel and die – or thrive and grow. If you want your wife to be a queen and display her beauty to you, treating her with respect will go a long way toward allowing her to do just that.

So here are some practical ways in which you can show respect to your spouse.

  1. Listen – really listen – to them.

Paying attention to and devoting real energy to understanding what your spouse is trying to communicate shows that you value what they have to say. Listening without interrupting or putting them down shows that their thoughts, ideas, opinions, and feelings are important to you.

  1. Seek out their opinion.

Don’t wait for your spouse to always initiate conversation. Seek out ways and times when you can ask for their input on what you are working on, struggling with, or interested in. Doing so shows you think they have something of value to offer.

Continue Reading »

Suffering in Marriage

When it Hurts to Love Well

I’m honored to be posting over at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. Thank you, Sheila Wray Gregoire, for the opportunity! I hope you’ll check out all Sheila has to offer, and read the full post there.

Suffering in MarriageMarriage isn’t supposed to be about suffering, is it?

There may be a few marriages where everything goes smoothly and life is truly “happily ever after,” but truthfully I haven’t known any marriages like that. I considered my marriage very happy, happier than most, but it was not devoid of suffering. But it was actually those challenging aspects that brought me the greatest satisfaction and became the most valuable.

Suffering in marriage is a touchy subject. That idea may immediately bring up thoughts of abuse, control, manipulation, addiction, violence, and any number of other painful and destructive ideas. I just want to get this out of the way right now: those behaviors are never OK. Never. Period. End of story. If there is abuse, manipulation, or violence going on in your marriage, get some help now!

But there’s a whole other aspect to “suffering” that is much more common, perhaps universal.

As human beings we are basically selfish, and when two selfish people become joined in marriage there is certain to be suffering.

You are certain to be hurt if you get close enough to someone, and you are certain to hurt them also. And life has a way of bringing its own suffering in a thousand different ways. It’s not a matter of if, but of when. But it’s what you do next that really counts.

Suffering can crop up in many different ways. Your spouse wants sex when you don’t, or you want sex when your spouse doesn’t feel up to it – over and over again. Your spouse develops a serious illness. Your teenage child gets involved in drugs. Your baggage or your spouse’s baggage from your family of origin spills over into your life now. You’re forced to choose between a job you love and doing what’s best for your marriage or family.

Your suffering may be larger or smaller than someone else’s, but it feels really heavy – and probably unfair.

I hope you’ll check out the rest of this post over at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. There I talk about how to tell the difference between “good” suffering and “bad” suffering. I’d love to see your comments and questions.