Love Your Valentine All Year Long

Last week millions of people rushed to buy flowers, stuffed animals, candy, cards and diamonds to remind their spouse of their undying devotion. I wonder how many of those millions are still feeling the love this week?

simple ways to show love to your spouse all year long.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

How many of us live out these biblical truths in our marriage? They are hard to put into practice on a "good" day, but on those hard, crazy overwhelming days it's only by the grace of God that we can learn to love like Jesus loved!

Only through the grace of God can we learn to love others. {Tweet it!}

  • Love is patient, with our spouses and the curve balls life throws at us. 
  • Love is kind, even when our spouses are cranky. 
  • Love is humble, even when we are the one that is "right" in an argument. 
  • Love is filled with honesty and Godly truth. 
  • Love is endearing, even when our spouses are not. 
  • Love endures all things, even the biggest stresses that life can throw at us. 
  • Love is filled with a hope that only comes from knowing Jesus Christ.

Let's face it, this love stuff is tough work. We are busy. We have responsibilities. Little and big people to care for. To do lists a mile long. Laundry and lots of it. And sometimes romance is the first thing to fly out the proverbial window in our marriage.

But in the middle of all the daily craziness, don't you want to feel loved by the one person on this earth that you vowed to go through life with? I sure do.

How do you show love to your spouse in the daily chaos of life?

Learn your spouse's love language! My hubby's love language is home cooked meals so I have learned to love the act of cooking because it makes him happy. I randomly tuck little love notes inside his lunch box. I mow the lawn on a hot summer day while he's at work, or take out the trash before he gets home from an extra long work day. Sometimes I buy his favorite candy bar when I'm out running errands. It's the little things that make him happy.

My love language is quality time and acts of service. I don't need roses, or diamonds or even chocolates to feel loved by my hubby. But a little patience, encouragement, a listening ear and a man willing to empty the dishwasher when I'm having a crazy week goes a long way for me. I love that my husband takes time to show me he loves me, even when he's having a super busy week!

Let's make it our mission to love our husbands every day of the year. In the middle of our messes. In the little ways that matter. 

What can you do to let your husband know how much you love him this week?

Not sure what your spouse's love language is? You can take this free quiz created by Dr. Gary Chapman to help you start to show love in ways that truly speak to your spouse's heart. P.S. It helps if your spouse takes it too!

Get your free copy of "The Grace Challenge!"

Bible study worksheets, Scripture cards and printable art to glorify Jesus in the middle of your busy, beautiful life. {Get it here.}

Lord, Teach Me To Love

I hated Valentine's Day growing up. My parents had a horrible marriage and the whole idea of celebrating love with candy, roses and cards in a marriage that lacked kindness and basic human decency was a joke to me.

five simple words to bring hope and healing to marriage.

One year (oh so long ago!) our high school held a Valentine fundraiser. We could buy roses and have them delivered anonymously to lockers. My silly, naive girlfriends convinced me that I should buy a rose for this guy. And put a handwritten poem in his locker to boot! He got a ton of roses that Valentine's Day, but only one love note from yours truly.

Someone leaked that I was the author of that note. He thought it was hilarious and read it out loud to EVERYONE in our science class. Hysterical laughter followed (my friends included). My face turned as red as those cinnamon Valentine hearts. I went home sick the rest of the week. I was devastated. That was the first time I put my heart out there for anyone and it was crushed.

Even though my heart broke into pieces that day, I learned a valuable lesson on what true love isn't.

This week, I celebrate another year of marriage with the most perfect for me, kick butt hubby a girl could ever pray for. He would never laugh if I bought a rose and stuck it in his locker. Or if I wrote him a silly little love note (which I do often).

We've hit a few bumps in our marriage. At times they've felt more like craters. We've stood face to face with our selfishness and pride. Our hearts have been stretched to their limit through the sorrows of our infertility journey and navigating the craziness of the adoption world.

Jesus has taught us to cling to each other {and to Him!} through the good times as well as the difficult times.

I wouldn't trade our years together for all the chocolate in Pennsylvania.

Through all the sorrow and the bumps and the heart bruises, there has been more joy than I could ever imagine. I love this man to the moon and back. And then beyond a dozen or so times.

When things have been at their worst, I've cried out to Jesus:
"Lord, teach me to love."

And He does.
Our Lord is so faithful.

Christ has been refining two imperfect sinners over the years. He has shown us redemption, forgiveness, joy in the middle of trials and how to love another on days when the other hasn't done a single thing to earn it or deserve it. 

The vows we exchanged many years ago are still commitments I'm trying to keep today. To love, honor and cherish. In the good times and the bad times.

I mess up a lot. But there is grace. Lots and lots of grace. From the hubby and from Jesus.

And there is love, so much love.

If there was one thing I could do differently, it would be to go back to the day we said 'I do' and follow that commitment with five words that have been inscribed deep within my heart. They are five profound, but simple, words that have radically changed me and have helped me love like Jesus loves.

"Lord, teach me to love." 

If your marriage has hit a bump in the road, take these five words to heart and ask Jesus to help show you how to love your spouse. Ask Him to allow you to see your spouse through His eyes. Take accountability for your own sin and part in your current bumpy situation. Ask for forgiveness, if needed. Ask someone to pray for your marriage. Talk to a pastor or seek professional counsel if necessary. You don't have to go through your trials alone. Jesus loves you.

Get your free copy of "The Grace Challenge!"

Bible study worksheets, Scripture cards and printable art to glorify Jesus in the middle of your busy, beautiful life. {Get it here.}

Give The Gift Of Grace Today

My mom passed away over a decade ago and every now and again I think back on some of our conversations and disagreements, wishing I could go back and choose my words more wisely. Ever had those feelings of regret in conversations with your loved ones?

extend more grace to others today.

Have I told you about the one day I threw a wrench into an already messy family environment when I bid a fond farewell to the Catholic church and decided to continue following Jesus without a denomination? This news was bigger than Watergate in my household. My dear mom swore she could hear our ancestors rolling over in their graves for my injustice! I tried to calm her nerves by affirming that I was not breaking up with God, or Jesus or the Holy Spirit for that matter. The Trinity was still cool; I just felt the Lord calling me in a different direction. But no matter how hard I tried, my explanations were never good enough. Being un-Catholic was just unacceptable. It drove a huge wedge into an already messy relationship.

Extend more grace, less judgment to others today.

My mom passed away several years ago. And she certainly wouldn't have won any 'mother of the year' awards while she was alive. She had her struggles and her flaws. *don't we all!* She was abusive and an alcoholic. She was cold and impersonal. On the outside, she was put together, a high-level executive beloved by her church and the community. On the inside, she was a total mess. *just like the rest of us!*

In her defense, she came from a very abusive home environment, and I'm not sure she was ever shown real love as a child. I'm not sure she ever laid those heavy burdens of hers down at the foot of the Cross, even though she spent a large portion of her adult life serving others, the Church and our Lord.

My mom thought I was in a cult (i.e. a bible based non-denominational church). I thought she was totally missing the boat on redemption and salvation and a personal relationship with Christ. But the reality is, we both got hung up on things that tore us apart and built walls, instead of coming together with the things we had in common: our love for Jesus.

Only Jesus knows the true state of our hearts.

We both gave praise and glory to God our Father. We both served our church and our community. We both were (I still am) broken creations in need of a Savior; humbled and awed by the beautiful sacrifice Christ made on the Cross for our salvation. We had a lot more in common than we ever realized. 

We are called to love, not to judge.

If I had a 'do-over day,' I would go back and make some of those conversations right. I would have showered her with grace, instead of banging her up for her beliefs. I could have been more civil and allowed her to explore her convictions with me, instead of jumping down her throat and telling her she was theologically off the mark. Being aggressive and "right" as I defended my convictions didn't get us anywhere, except build a bridge between us that was miles long.

As we continue to meet people who are at different places in their walk with the Lord, I pray that we will extend the courtesy they deserve as children of God. The type of courtesy I desired from my mom. The type of courtesy I should have given her.

We need to uphold God's truth and His word always. We need to share the gospel with unbelievers in our churches and our community. And we can do this with courtesy, love and a listening ear, instead of condemnation, judgment and a need to be "right." 

Heavenly Father, today I pray we will strive to look past our church labels and see people for all that You desire them to be. I pray we will get to know one another's hearts and choose to discuss all the beautiful and marvelous ways that You are working in our lives. I pray we do not get so caught up in the type of church building that we worship in or the theological viewpoints that we hold dear. {*there are Biblical limitations to this of course.*} At the end of the day, Father, I hope You will be able to say 'well done good and faithful servant,' if we are able to help each other strengthen our personal relationship with Jesus and learn to love one another as Christ loves His church.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
~ John 13: 34-35 ~

How can you strive to be more courteous to the people God places in your path today, including other Jesus followers that have different theological viewpoints?

Get your free copy of "The Grace Challenge!"

Bible study worksheets, Scripture cards and printable art to glorify Jesus in the middle of your busy, beautiful life. {Get it here.}
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