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?

Share Your Skill

Do you make the best cinnamon rolls ever, the kind your family begs for at holidays?
Can you tile a backsplash with the best?
Is your pantry an thing of beauty, organized and labelled?
Does your garden have enough prize-winning produce to feed your family and the neighbors?
Do numbers flow easily for you, and you love making a budget?

With what skill have you been gifted? There are many possible, big and small.

Who could benefit from that skill? There is probably someone around you that would be blessed.

Sharing with others has a number of benefits:

  • The woman described in Proverbs 31 had a wide variety of skills, which she used to bless her family and community. What she knew how to do flowed out of her and enriched those around her. You can do the same thing with what you know.
  • We are stronger together. When you share what you know with someone else, you are making their plans stronger. You are also investing in a stronger relationship through that sharing, which makes for a stronger church, community, or family.
  • Sharing a needed skill with someone else is a way to love your neighbor. Who has a bathroom in need of TLC, but the budget doesn’t quite match the need? What about when the labor cost is handled with a new skill, learned from a friend?
  • This kind of mentoring can help you obey Titus 2:3-4. If you are old enough to have gained a valuable skill, there is probably someone younger who can benefit from it as they grow in godliness.
  • And we haven’t even mentioned the simple joy of being together and  getting something special, and/or needed, done. It’s fun! I have both experienced that kind of fun and watched it happen.

So, please, please look for opportunities to share your knowledge with someone else. Invest in a good thing. The more we all do this, the more we all benefit.

How to Make Strong Plans

Plans are established by counsel;
by wise guidance wage war.
Proverbs 20:18

Life often feels like a battle — because it is! In the midst of it, we’ll take any weapon tossed our way. Even better than that would be walking into the battle with the best weapons we can have.

The best plans are shaped with wise input. The proverb above is giving us a key. Getting counsel when we make plans will make our plans stronger. Using a wise guide, who knows more than we do and can add depth and insight, will make us more effective as we work our plans.

Two is better than one, in this case. None of us know everything or can experience everything, but put us together and see what we have! Mistakes can be avoided, valuable lessons learned can be transferred (instead of having to learn it the hard way), and perspective is wider with two or more sets of eyes.

This does take humility, though. Often we don’t ask for help because we don’t want to admit we don’t know everything and can’t do it all. Letting pride limit us will hurt us every time.

But the benefit is great! Gaining wisdom from God through those godly people He places in our paths is a precious treasure.

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
    and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
    and her profit better than gold.
Proverbs 3:13-14

I encourage you to ask for guidance today in a plan you are making. If you can’t immediately think of a good person to ask related to it, start asking questions of others and look to find someone who has the specific wisdom you might need.

Seek wisdom. It’s worth the effort.

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.