Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love Stories Part 2: It’s the Little Things

King Solomon said , it’s the little foxes that spoil the vines (as they romp through the vineyard in their quest for love, food, or adventure) in Song of Songs 2:15—a racy little book from the Bible you might want to read with your spouse. It’s also the little things that make for a great harvest—and a great love. That’s what we treasure most in our marriage.
In the nine years Kelly and I have been married, we keep finding more and more little ways to say I Love You. Foot rubs, running the other a bath after a hard day, silly texts, and learning to love (or at least show interest) in what the other is excited about. Words are especially important.
Before the tile was done on our kitchen counters, we wrote love notes and encouraging scriptures on the plywood. Even though they’re covered now, we know all the love we expressed to each other is still there.  
The other night on our way home from a movie, Kelly took a side street and circled back to the intersection. Then he suddenly leaped from the car and raced into the darkness. I didn’t know what was going on. I kept glancing behind the car to see if anyone was coming, and out in the direction he went. Was there an emergency; did I need to go help? Suddenly he reappeared and leaned over for a kiss as he got back in and handed me a daffodil. He had seen one blooming in a random patch of grass and knows how I love them.

This is what others said when I asked what their husband or wife does that makes them feel loved. I hope these make you smile and give you a few ideas of your own.
Hugs and kisses, and my morning text, to name a few.

I can't pick just a couple.
Kisses on the forehead, bare belly bumps, when he does laundry, dishes and makes dinner, when he tells me he loves me, brings me coffee in bed, when he calls to check on me. I claim the calling to see if I'm ok is annoying because being me isn't something fixable, but it makes my heart warm and reassures me that we are in this together.  I also love when he still laughs at me. Having a relationship like ours and going through it all and making it hasn’t been easy. Being able to see and hear him laugh is easily the best since we came so close to not being together. He also fixed the toilet paper holder.

She puts my work shoes on the boot heater to warm them up for me.

She scratches my back .

He does the dishes after I cook dinner and leaves coffee cards in my car to surprise me.

He sends me random love texts, encouragement and belief in my dreams, and gives me his undivided attention.

He rubs my feet, snuggles on the couch with me, and reads me Sherlock Holmes.

He makes me a fresh pot of coffee for the morning.

List is to dang long to write!

She makes my lunch in the morning.  

He takes me on date days, finds flowers on the sidewalk on the way to our bus, brings me my favorite coffee when I've had a hard day, gives me sweet notes with a single flower, draws love notes on the mirror, when he takes both kids on walks so I can take a special bath time or an extra nap.

Happy Valentines to you all! Whether you’re married, dating, or single, these are great ways to show someone else you care about them. All love comes from God—He created beauty, touch, humor, coffee beans, and surprise. He can show us how to be aware of other’s needs. So go to it!

#Valentines #lovenotes #itsthelittlethings #improveyourmarriage #howtoloveyourmate

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Love Stories

I asked for love stories and received these beautiful accounts that will inspire you and make you say, “Ahh.” Every love story, whether romantic love, friendship, or parental love is worth sharing. They inspire all of us to be better lovers, in every sense of the word. I hope they warm your heart and give you ideas on how you can be better lovers as we celebrate the tremendous power of love—demonstrated in word and deed.

Laurie’s story:
I loved my husband and was married to him for over 23 years, but it felt like we had only a few short years when the Lord called him home suddenly—in  just a few dreadful moments at midnight. I held his head in my hands as I prayed in desperation for him to breathe. A blood clot had lodged in his bronchial artery and he struggled to get air past it into his lungs.

What a sacred time of togetherness this was. I was permitted time to tell him what a wonderful husband he had been to me, and what a beloved-good father he had been. Even though I begged God not to take him home I could feel this was his day to receive his heavenly reward.

I had been reading my Bible since the age of 17 and knew so many things about the Lord by this time; I knew He never made mistakes in His timing. I knew by heart the word that proclaims the 'Day of our death is precious in His sight' and also that 'it is better than the day of our birth.' I did not fall into questioning or despair at his departure, only a deep sadness at what I would have to live without.

He was a very protective father and husband, so much so that when it snowed he would tell me I would not be driving to work! He would warm up his truck and he would escort me safely to work and back.

Through the love of my long-time church friends, work friends, and CR I began to receive hope that my sadness was lifting and there would be a purpose for my life in the future. That's when my oldest son called with the shocking news that my daughter had died early that morning, moments after feeding her newborn baby, only 7 days old.

I had talked to her the night before—another one of those 'Godly Gifts' I will be forever thankful to Him for! It made it harder to believe, however. She hadn't been ill or sick, just happy to receive the newest addition in her family of 11 children. I went to stay with the children until my oldest grand-daughter could arrive to help my son in law. It wasn't long before I could see how beneficial I could be to the family if I stayed to help.

My days are now filled with helping raise and transport the kids to their practices and games. I think back to how God orchestrated my availability to be able to move from the West coast to the East. If He hadn't taken my husband home first, the move would never have been possible.

God knew what it would take to make a way for me to help. I loved my community and my friends were a security after the loss of my best friend (my husband!) I cried as I drove East and I was afraid to let go...God said quietly but distinctly, " You will lose a lot of things but when you get there the most important thing of all will be right there waiting for you, and that will be ME!" 

Tori’s story:
I had been dating Beau, the love of my life for a long time, and wishing he would ask me to marry him. So much so that I bought a wedding dress, just in case he proposed. 

I knew Beau was the one for me so I headed to Goodwill before moving from Maryland to Illinois (his hometown). I saw a dress in the back of the store that was gorgeous and still had the tags. It was just my size so I handed the cashier $50 and packed it up.

The dress became stagnant when I moved to Illinois. It was not put to use as quickly as I hoped it would. I was fixed on getting married very quickly. When I passed by the dress I would become mad at Beau then proceed to yell at him for not proposing yet. Beau was always calm and sweet with his reply, "Just be patient." How I hated when he said that.

So my dress kept sitting, no ring on my finger yet. I left for a trip back to Maryland to visit my family. While I was gone I had no clue that my king of grand gestures, Beau, was creating my wedding.

It came time to travel back to Illinois, on the trip home I was just excited to see Beau again but still bitter we still weren't engaged. I began to pull up to Beau’s house and saw streets full of vehicles. I got out of the car, completely confused, Beau walked out of the house, got on his knee and asked me to be his wife.

Well by now you should know I screamed yes... then not only did he propose he said, "Good, because we are getting married today." WHAT!?

I was walked back to a hall and had makeup and hair done in 15 minutes then straight into my no longer stagnate dress. My family had raced to beat me to Illinois and surprised me too. 

I had a whole lot of emotions as I walked down the aisle to that crazy man that I adore. I, of course, felt like a total brat for yelling at him so much about marriage. I'm sure at some point he thought, "Well Lord I'm not sure if I can go through with this," but the whole time he had something beyond my wildest dreams planned. If it had gone my way, Beau would have proposed out of my impatience and it wouldn't have been as magical as our wedding was.

What an amazing husband I have to know his bride so well. He created the perfect wedding in a week and gave me the surprise of lifetime. I feel this story is a lot like God’s love. We beg and plead for things we desire, but if God always gave us our desires we would miss out on something so much more beautiful and wonderful. I'm so fortunate to have been blessed with this beautiful love story.

Happy Valentines Day! Tune in for more tomorrow.
#Valentines #lovestories #shareyourstory #romanticlove #loveislike

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

10 Ways to Save Time and Money

I don’t know about you, but I hate wasting time or money. Both seem to come in short supply, and even in times of abundance, they melt away as quickly as spring snow. I’m no expert, but I have found a few ways to save. I hope these ideas help you in this New Year.

Saving Time—
#1: Handle it Once
When you’re tired, or pressed for time, it’s easy to drop stuff on a nearby surface to get to later. But we make more work for ourselves that way. Take the time to put it away while you still have it in your hands; then it’s done. It’s just as easy to put things in the right place as the wrong place. Handle it once; you’ll save time and be glad it’s done.

#2: Use a Timer
Your timer can be your friend—keeping you from spending too much time on projects you love and pushing you to work on projects you dread. In the first case, set the timer to limit the amount of time you spend, then stop and clean up when it goes off. In the latter case, set a goal for 15 minutes to an hour. You can quit when it goes off and admire the progress you’ve made. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish in small increments if you stay focused (and off your phone).

These next three save both Time and Money.
#3: Make It Ahead
There’s nothing better than coming home from work, or in from yard work, to a readymade dinner. You can fill a crock pot with meat, soup, or a one dish meal and divide into containers. Other things you can make ahead—dry ingredient mixes, cookies, muffins, fruit, and veggies—baked, bagged, and frozen. These can save time and money when you need something quick.

#4: Make a Shopping List
Limit yourself to one trip a week and keep a list. Whenever you see you’re almost out of something, put it on the list so you don’t have to make an extra trip. The more times you shop, the more you’ll spend. Decide on your menu ahead of time when having company, and check recipes to see what you’ll need.

#5: Buy and Divide
When possible, buy meat and more expensive items on sale or with coupons. Buy large packages of meat and divide as soon as you get home and put in the freezer. Or cook the whole amount and freeze in smaller quantities for quick and easy meals later.  Do the same with chips, snacks, or desserts for lunches. This not only saves buying individual packages, but initiates portion control for you and your family.

Saving Money—
#6: Recycle
There’s more than one way to recycle. Separating cans, glass, junk mail, newspapers, and cardboard is a great idea. There’s also creative recycling. Use produce bags for lunch sacks, and grocery sacks for garbage can liners. Wrap presents in newspaper, or make cards using pictures from calendars or magazines. Use paper printed on only one side for scrap paper. And instead of buying plastic containers, wash and reuse containers from products you use.

#7: Make Your Own
Recipes abound for homemade cleaners, hand soaps, lotions, hand sanitizer, and laundry detergent. You not only save money on the products, but reduce the amount of garbage that goes into our landfills. You can add your own scents, or go scent-free. You also save money by making your own cake, muffins, granola, and spice mixes. They don’t take that much longer than readymade, and can be full of fresh, natural ingredients.

#8: Wash and Re-use
It’s handy to use disposables when traveling, but these products are filling our landfills at an alarming rate; that’s not only expensive, but bad for our environment. Instead of buying throwaway wet wipes, cleaning cloths, and single use dusters, use washcloths and rags cut from worn out towels and t-shirts. Instead of throwaway water bottles, fill one at home and keep in your car.

#9: Maintain What You Have
My dad told me, “If you take care of your tools, they’ll take care of you.” Hose the underside of your machine after mowing the lawn so wet grass doesn’t build up. Wipe dirt from garden tools so they don’t rust. Sharpen blades on tools and knives. Carry garbage from your car when you get home to keep crumbs and odors from working their way into the crevices of your vehicle. Maintaining our homes, machines, clothes, and bodies will make them look and run better, and last longer.

#10: Spend More
Even though I’m big on saving money, sometimes you save by spending. If you want appliances and furniture that last, it’s wise to pay more for quality design and craftsmanship, rather than a “cute” product made of cheap materials. I buy a lot of clothes at thrift shops, but some I shop for new to save in the long run.

This is an unusual post for me, but I firmly believe we need to be good stewards of the resources God gives us. I hope these ideas spur you on to make changes, and challenge you to budget, save, and give to the glory of God.

#moneysavingtricks #savetime #householdhints #stewardship #savingenvironment

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Gracious Hands

Our hands are powerful communicators, saying so much without a spoken word.

I remember sobbing at the altar in anguish when a hand gently rested on my head. Like an Aaronic blessing, it lifted me to hope and peace. I didn’t hear a spoken prayer, but this simple action demonstrated intercession and the unconditional love of God.

There have been many other times when my mother, father, friends, husband, and even strangers’ hands have blessed my life through a touch on the shoulder, arm, or hand. We have two remarkable tools at the end of our arms to do God’s work! Hands can say: “I’m here.” “I’m sorry.” “I’m listening.” “You can do this.” “I care.” And much more.

This morning, I finished reading the book of Ezra and I kept noticing the phrase, “the gracious hand of our God was upon us.” It’s mentioned six times in just two chapters! It spoke volumes to me and I found myself repeating it throughout the day as a prayer. Lord, let your gracious hand be upon us.

If you take a closer look at these two chapters from Ezra, they point to six ways God’s hand was on them and can be on all who seek Him today.
He Grants Political Favor:  Even though Israel had been in captivity in a foreign land for generations, God had a plan to restore them. And He did it through the pagan kings that held them in bondage. “The king had granted [Ezra] everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him” (Ezra 7:6, italics added for emphasis).
Lord, let your gracious hand give us favor with political leaders to accomplish your plans and restore your people to godliness.
He Gets Us There: Ezra 7:9 says, “[Ezra] had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him.” Just like Ezra, when an assignment is from God, He will get us where we need to go, even if the road looks impossible and full of obstacles.

O Lord, set our course and give us stamina to face every hurdle along the way, trusting you to help us reach the destination.

He Brings Help: God not only gave Ezra support from the king and his officials, but encouraged him to bring brothers alongside: “Praise be to the Lord...who has...extended his good favor to me before the king... Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leaders from Israel to go up with me” (Ezra 7:27-28).

Father, give us help from those in authority over us as well as fellow workers.

He Provides Spiritual Leaders: Ezra 8:15-18, “When I checked among the people and the priests, I found no Levites there…I…ordered them to go…bring attendants to us for the house of our God.  Because the gracious hand of our God was on us, they brought us Sherebiah, a capable man.”

Lord, we need capable leaders for the kingdom. Bring us godly men.

He Brings Families Home: Ezra 8:21-23, “I proclaimed a fast, so that we might…ask [God] for a safe journey for us and our children… I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, ‘The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him…and he answered our prayer.”

We look to you for safe passage through this life.

He Protects Us from the Thief: Highway bandits were a traveler’s nightmare in Ezra’s day. “We set out from the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way” (Ezra 8:31). Our enemy’s tactic is to rob our joy and frustrate God’s plans. 

May His gracious hand protect you from the enemy. 

Lord, help us touch others with the same gracious love you show us. 

#poweroftouch #handofGod #grace #miraclesinEzra #GodintheOldTestament