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.

Suffering from Isolation

“On a very practical level, human beings just fundamentally have a better chance of surviving in social and familial groups than in isolation,” says a Forbes article.

Most of us would not argue the basic sense in that statement. But how well is that reflected in our daily lives?

Surgeon General Murthy, referencing his practice in Boston, said that the most common illness he saw “was not heart disease or diabetes, but it was isolation. It was social disconnection.”

There are multiple factors in our culture’s increasing trend toward isolation, and it is so easy to drift that way without realizing it. How often do we catch ourselves absorbed in our phones in a group of friends? How many days are full of tasks and productivity without any meaningful interaction with all the people we saw, sometimes even our family members? How many good friends do you have, who know your daily life — good, bad, and ugly?

One beauty in loving our neighbors is that it is so good for us AND our neighbor. We need each other. Not just the help with a flat tire, but we also need the relationship. Conversations on the front porch, a daily phone call to an elderly family member or friend, and shared meals all improve our physical and emotional well-being, as well as our spiritual fitness.

God’s wisdom is amazing! Love your neighbor today.

 

Created to Serve

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

God has set His children free! Glorious truth that is!

But that freedom is not the freedom of an unsupervised toddler, free to touch and play and wander at will. We as Christians are called to use our liberty for love. Our life’s purpose of loving God and loving our neighbor will involve serving each other — not just doing whatever we want.

We can serve in so many ways. It will take wisdom to know how to serve each day, since the opportunities are endless.

  • Serve your husband by running the two errands he asked, instead of getting all your tasks for the day done before saying, “Oops, I just didn’t get to that. Maybe another day.”
  • Serve your neighbor by taking the time to stop and touch base for a few minutes, even though your coffee got cold.
  • Serve your cousin’s grandmother by popping by the nursing home for cheery visits.
  • Serve your neighbor by attending the fundraising banquet at the end of a long day to encourage the staff and financially support a good cause, if you are able.
  • Serve the body of Christ by teaching children and young people the precious truths of Scripture.
  • Serve your children by encouraging their walk with the Lord and growth in godliness, rather than only harping on the obvious failures.
  • Serve a young mother by doing her laundry or cleaning her kitchen one day.
  • Serve a missionary through regular notes of encouragement.
  • Serve your pastor by listening to and carefully considering his counsel.

May God strengthen us to fulfill our purpose as we walk in freedom today.

Everything in Its Place

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

This is key for organization. It’s not the cute boxes and nifty shelves. It’s that things are assigned to places. When they are needed, they can be found and used; when they are not needed, they return to base.

Unfortunately, jazzy systems can only go so far. Putting everything in place, no matter how wonderful that place is, requires discipline. Ugh!

Now, we’re not talking boot camp discipline here. Perfectionism is not required, even though it would keep those shelves absolutely perfectly organized. But that (fortunately) is not the ultimate goal. Keeping things orderly has several purposes, but none that should be overtaken. Reflecting God’s character is lovely, but obsessive organization shouldn’t become a god. Making the best use of our resources is ideal, but shouldn’t be the ultimate driver. Saving time is great, but we don’t need more time just for the sake of having free time.

Keeping things in place is a way to serve God, your family, and everyone around you. If you make a habit of using things and then returning them to a reasonable location, you will have fewer hindrances as you fulfill your purpose. The frustration you feel when your home is a disaster area can be minimized. The time wasted searching for necessary books and papers before school can be converted to a calm departure and good conversation on the way to school. You don’t have to tear the house apart for a bandaid when the skinned knee comes limping in from outside. Guests are welcomed to a home that is lived in but not hazardous. Bills can be paid on time rather than lost in scattered stashes of mail.

Basically, it’s not rocket science or out-of-reach creativity. You can do the simple, basic steps needed to bring order to your household and life. Not perfect order, but purposeful order.

Committed Love

 

But Ruth said:
“Entreat me not to leave you,

Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”

These words are a beautiful expression of the committed love Ruth showed Naomi, a reflective flicker of the incredible covenantal love of God for His people.

In our premarital counseling, our pastor reminded us that sometimes marriage will require love that will stay in the car and ride even into the ditch. You can see the danger ahead and calmly share your concern, but sometimes the decision is still to continue. You then buckle up and ride out the crash (and pay the repair bill and allow the bruises to heal) together. Note: this is not referring to life-or-death or sin situations.

Yes, commitment is that committed. Committed love goes all the way to the end. The idea is beautiful and we love being loved that way, but how often are we committed?

How often will we go out to eat IF we like the restaurant? If it’s not a menu we like, it doesn’t matter with whom we are eating (never mind Proverbs 15:17).

How much have we been willing to be friends AS LONG as we share interests and think alike? It’s more efficient and comfortable. No need to stretch (Proverbs 27:17).

Have you ever caught yourself thinking, I’ll love AS LONG as they love me? Fair is fair, and I have my rights.

I have fallen in all these traps. That’s not love; it’s an even exchange of goods.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” — John 15:12-14

We often think of the Ruth passage related to weddings. I find it interesting that neither of these Scriptures are referring to marriage. Ruth loved her mother-in-law. Christ commanded His disciples, and by extension the church.

Who are we loving today?

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