Celebrating Milestones

Funnily enough, I am writing this while a birthday cake is in the oven! It is a week early, because of the work travel schedule, but we are going to celebrate regardless.

Why?

One reason is simply because it’s an opportunity to show love. Birthdays, holidays, graduations, and more, are a special reason to show special favor to those who are important to you. A generous spirit doesn’t need a reason to give, but it will also make the most of the opportunities that are there! For example, the first day of each season can be a time to stop and enjoy the things special to it. First snow may be a snow fort afternoon for the whole family followed by steaming hot cocoa. First day of spring could have you making bouquets to cheer up the neighbors.

Another reason would be to reflect priorities. A day set apart to honor our mothers and fathers is a time to show them how much we love and appreciate them. A wedding anniversary can do the same thing, reminding us to say again how much we cherish our spouses. Setting aside normal routine to celebrate shows that special value.

Sometimes we just like the opportunity to remember what God has done. My husband and I enjoy repeating our first four dates on the anniversaries. It doesn’t always work in the schedule, but when it does, we have a special time of memories from those first weeks together. Celebrating a conversion anniversary would also be a reminder of God’s work. He does so much, it won’t take long to find an opportunity for this one either!

Celebrations can be encouragement as well. A special dinner or activity when your child gets their first “real” job shows how valuable hard work and responsibility is. Graduation from high school can be a celebration that still looks forward to the next stage. You made it through these years, and now you can tackle those.

This applies to small milestones also. A first book read alone could lead to a trip to the bookstore. The first meal planned, cooked, and served might be followed by a vase of flowers.

Knowing that a celebration will likely be coming can help your family push through the struggle, because you’re pulling for them and love sharing the joy when it is done. A cheerleader is a precious support.

So what do you have to celebrate today?

Keepin’ It Happy

We talk often about loving God and loving our neighbor. Today let’s talk about a specific neighbor — your husband. If you have one, loving him is a priority given to you. If you do not have one, you love your neighbors by encouraging those who are married to love their husbands well.

This love is shown in so many ways, every day, but today I’ll address one aspect only: love him by expressing how special he is to you.

Make a special time together. Remember how exciting it was to go on a date back when your lives weren’t completely entwined? You can’t go back, but you can still keep the spirit of that excitement alive in other ways. Even if family schedules are busy, you can make time for a shared interest weekly or monthly, or you can take 5-10 minutes to share undivided attention each day. Maybe a date night is part of your routine. Don’t let those just become a frantic trips to Sam’s Club with drive-thru on the way home. A little bit of lipstick and clean clothes goes a long way. Showing by your demeanor that the time is special, dedicated to your marriage, is important. We often need the concrete signals for both ourselves and the ones we are honoring.

Play with each other. In a good marriage, there’s no one else in the world with whom you can be quite as relaxed. Keep that fresh. Some times that may take effort, but it will be worth it. Take a deep breath, shake off the tension of the day, smile and then laugh! Laughter is good medicine, for your heart and your marriage. When the giggling and goofing off comes easily, treasure it.

I’ll admit, I was surprised at the bond that was created after our wedding by the times of joking or laughing with my husband. It is a benefit that can easily fall to the wayside in times of stress or too much routine, but don’t let it get left behind. The strength of your bond will help you through hard times, but it needs refreshing as you go.

Contentment

Are you content?

Handling all your responsibilities day in and day out can be draining. Feeling drained can quickly tempt you to be discontent.

Fantastically beautiful pictures on social media and stories from friends about things they are doing, or things they have that you don’t have, can add up quickly as well.

Do you want what you don’t have today? Do you want a different life?

If so, then as Esther Engelsma says in How Can I Feel Productive as a Mom?, “it is time to strive for contentment.”

When we are happy with the gifts God has given us, we witness to the world that He is a good God. This glorifies Him. When we are not content with what He has given us, we witness to the world that we think He is not a good God, that He does not have the best interests of His people in mind, and that we don’t trust Him to make us happy.

Satan uses this issue of contentment to try to take God’s glory away.

So how do we fight back and glorify God and love Him with all that we are?

We trust God. We show quiet confidence in our Father, knowing that He loves us and has planned good for us in whatever our life holds. We remind ourselves of who He is and the promises He made that He will absolutely keep. We make ourselves stronger for the fight by feeding on His Word. We practice gratitude by thanking Him for what He has given us.

We obey God. We do the work he has called us to today. We love those He has placed in our lives. We follow the path of wisdom, knowing that God has given the best directions. We get up and move and get it done, even when we’d rather have a pity party or take a (very long) break.

We obey God all day long and then trust His wisdom when the allotted 24 hours runs out, knowing that He created the day and night, the work and rest cycle, and that only God can do everything.

It is as basic as “Trust and Obey” for this.

How to Follow a Blog

Disclaimer: if you are a proficient blogger or blog follower, this post will be of no use to you. For those of us still learning, I hope this helps with some outstanding questions.

As I’ve been learning about blogging and discussing this blog with friends, several questions have been raised as to how to follow a blog. Isn’t there a way to subscribe? How do I know when a new post is up? I saw it on Facebook today, but what if I miss it in my newsfeed next time? Etc.

Here are a few (hopefully simple) answers to some of the basic questions. You have options and can choose the access method that works best for you. For simplicity’s sake, I will describe each option related to Looking Well, but all the options apply to most blogs.

SubscribeSubscribe

If you would like to subscribe to the blog, you can enter your email address and receive an email letting you know new content is available. This allows you to read the posts on your own time and keep the emails until you know you have read the post.

The form to subscribe on Looking Well is on the righthand side of the blog page and looks like the image to the right of this paragraph.

RSS Feed

For those who prefer not to be on an email list or receive more emails than they already do, a feed reader (like Feedly) allows all updated content to be accessed in one place. Simply search for “http://www.lookingwell.info” and add the site to your reading list.

Facebook

Looking Well also has a Facebook page where all new blog posts (and occasional other content) are posted. You can Like or Follow the page (or both!). Following also gives you options for how you would like the posts in your newsfeed and whether you get notifications.

FB

Web Page Only

If you prefer to browse the web, or simply want to control your viewing opportunities, you can also simply drop by the site when you have a few minutes. The front page lists the 5 most recent posts, and the Archives are found on the right sidebar if you need to go farther back.

Continue reading “How to Follow a Blog”

Make Time to Be Holy

Time management and productivity are hot topics, and ones that fascinate me, but we must be careful to look at them in a healthy way. Why do we want more time in a day? What are we looking to produce? Are we plowing through the to-do list because we enjoy the checkmarks (oh, so much!), or because we are making time for priorities?

What is our priority? There are several big picture answers to that, all different expressions of one concept.

One is straight from Jesus – “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matt. 22:37-39).

Or a shorter answer is found in the Westminster Shorter Catechism – “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

We know many verses that detail how our love for God should show in our daily obedience, and we will talk about most, if not all, of them during the course of this blog. But we need the great purpose before us in the day-to-day steps as motivation and inspiration. We need to be protected by this love and pursuit of God’s glory to prevent us from straying into self-centeredness and shallow pleasures.

As we discuss time management, organization, homemaking, creating beauty, broadening horizons, and much more, I beg of you to keep the glorious as an umbrella over the good and great. Women, are you seeking to accomplish more in your workday simply as an accomplishment and way for promotion, or to have greater time and ability to be “teachers of good things” (Titus 2:3)? Wives, are you planning out your day just because you love a smooth calendar, or so you can best serve your husband and be free to enjoy family devotions in the evening with a clear mind? Daughters, are you getting faster at completing daily homework so you can spend more time on social media, or so you can cheerfully and easily obey when after-dinner chores are required?

There are so many draws on our time and attention, but one thing is best. Samuel Pearce, in a letter to a church member’s daughter, said it this way, “I hope that my dear Ann, amidst the various pursuits of an ornamental or scientific nature which she may adopt, will not omit that first, that great concern, the dedication of her heart to God.”*

As we look well to the ways of our households, we will examine and practice the good and better – but we will always seek what is best.

 

* A Heart for Missions: Memoir of Samuel Pearce by Andrew Fuller, Solid Ground Christian Books, 2005, page 163.