Friday, January 13, 2017

How is your Love Life?

Love is such a misunderstood word. It's an emotion, an action, a noun, a verb and unfortunately, whatever else that we say it is...

We were created to love and to be loved by others. It is a beautiful thing to observe two people in a loving relationship. Whether that is family or friends or spouses, love SHOWS! Even pets that are well cared for are healthier and happier. Your physical heart health is improved through loving relationships. Did you know that? 

So when we ask you how your love life is...what we are really asking is How good are you at loving others and letting others love you? Many times we are impressed when others show us love in a way that we understand and appreciate. How about when their love is misunderstood.

We often have received the cutest little insignificant objects from our sons as an act of love to us on their part. Its not our favorite thing, or in our favorite color. We have no use for whatever that was that they created in the art class or summer camp.

Any clue how I can use these?
Gee thanks!

We appreciate their acts of kindness and their thoughtfulness, but it is of no practical use to us. We laugh about the things that have come through our home that were made and done to show love. Have you ever had someone give you something that you are allergic to? How about if someone goes all out of their way to give you some food items that you absolutely hate? Learning to appreciate the person's gesture is very kind. However, when someone loves you in a way that you can feel and understand and acknowledge that is different. 

When Love is reciprocal and mutual, it will blow your mind! You will treasure those memories in your heart forever. Now that is truly the goal! When most people refer to your love life, they are talking about sex. You can have sex with someone and it is just okay for you. They tried their best it was....well, just sex. Then there are other times when both parties are mutually satisfied and plateaus are reached and Heaven touches Earth! Fireworks! Touchdown! That is the goal!!

God has given us opportunities to know and experience love primarily through the relationships that we experience here on Earth. His goal is not for you to just be loved or for you to just show love, but for both sides of your love life to be equally satisfying.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, KJV) 

Now that's love! It was love that expressed itself and is waiting for reciprocation. So how is your love life?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

20 Tips to Love your Family Better

How could you love your family better without saying " I Love You"? Here are 20 ways:

  1. Share Jesus with unsaved family members. The best way to love is to introduce them to God. He IS love.
  2. Spend quality time with individuals. I make dates with my sons individually.
  3. Celebrate birthdays. It is their own special day. Make it a big deal just for them.
  4. Learn to do something they enjoy. Your family will appreciate it.
  5. Hug them every day. Physical affection is a must for family. Touch is a very important thing.
  6. Buy someone in your family a gift just because. This gesture shows that you are actually thinking of them.
  7. Support their endeavors (music, sports, art, academics, business, etc..). They should always be able to count on you!
  8. Play a game with your family. This is still a great way to bond with your family.
  9. Go out to eat together. It makes great memories.
  10. Ask them how you can be praying for them. Ask them to be specific. Either pray right then or keep and list and ask them how it is going a few days later.
  11. Fix them a meal (or dessert :) Everybody has to eat right?
  12. Treat them to a mani/pedi, massage or hair salon (you provide the service). Cater to your family.
  13. Take care of their pet for them (cleanup included). Love what they love.
  14. Wash the car for them. Fill it with gas as a bonus!
  15. Teach a family member something new that you are good at. You will have something new in common that binds you together.
  16. Help with their homework or paper without a reward. Don't make them feel stupid. Encourage academic progress then attend graduation.
  17. Draw/Paint a picture or write a poem for a family member. What a great intentional loving action.
  18. Correct them in love. They will appreciate you later.
  19. Sincerely apologize when you are wrong and ask forgiveness. Wait for a response.
  20. Really listen to them. Pay attention to what they say and don't defend yourself.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Love: In Sickness and in Health

Remember that part of your wedding vows when they say in sickness and in health? Well I got to that part of my vows this past week. First Maurice got sick with a very bad cold and missed some time at work, then being his wife of course, I got sick right behind him. Thankfully, by the time I got sick we were all on our Christmas break. However, the kids were home from school and there was a ton of laundry in the basement. You know how that is. It was also a good time for me to reflect and to read the Bible and pray.

Once again, I stumbled onto Luke 11. This is the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus.  I saw love in this chapter in a way that I never saw it before. Notice that there are three verses in which love itself is mentioned.

In verse 3 it says "..he whom thou lovest is sick".

In verse 5 it says "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus".

In verse 36 it says "..then said the Jews behold how he loved him!".

In verses 33, 35 and 38 we see Jesus groaning in his spirit and weeping. He is showing emotional reactions to what was happening around him.

When we think of love we often think of emotional reactions, but the Bible teaches us that it is emotional but much more! Love is an action word and we see this clearly clearly in the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. He loved him and so he waited to go to him although Lazarus was ill. He loved him and so he took his time to see him even though he had died three days prior. He loved him and then he raised him from the dead so that all would believe.

When we speak of love concerning our spouses we need to ask ourselves why we love them and how we show that love. When I was sick Maurice fixed me breakfast and lunch in bed. He gave me my essential oils that I use and he let me rest. He took care of our boys and made sure that I was undisturbed so that my body could heal. It was in his actions and not his words that he showed his love in sickness and in health.
Honestly, it is harder to love when people are not in their best state. They are not putting their best foot forward. They don't look good. Let's be real, they don't even smell good. Martha told Jesus that Lazarus really smelled by now and and that going to see him at the tomb might not be a good idea. But Jesus loved him. 

What sacrifices are we willing to make for our spouses in sickness and in health?

You see, that is how God is glorified. In every circumstance, He is present. Mary & Martha both said "If you had been here Jesus my brother would not have died". I want to tell you that He is always here. With you. With me. When we are sick he can be glorified and when we are healthy he can be glorified too. His love is stronger than death. He loves us in sickness and in health, till death, and then afterwards for eternity.
So next time that your spouse is feeling ill, think of it as an opportunity to show love. Love makes sacrifices. Love does not seek its own, it seeks to glorify God. It looks a lot like Jesus who showed up, entered their struggle and brought life out of death.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What Loving your Children Really Means

In the book of Titus chapter 2, women are specifically told to love their children. In today's society, however, we find that so many children go unloved. They are not nurtured, fed, educated or properly cared for. Child abuse is at an all time high unfortunately. Children crave love and affection and it is the parent's responsibility to give it. It is bibilcal. Sometimes, due to many factors, we may find it hard to love our children despite our best efforts. We try and fail by our own standands.

Let's look at some bible examples. We do not have to go far to see them.  I can imagine that Adam and Eve felt as though they failed as parents. When there is murder in your own household, you could imagine how devastating that could be. Then, just in the next book of the bible, we see so many children killed by the Pharaoh trying to destroy the deliverer that would come out of Egypt. Parents struggle to protect their young to no avail. There are tons and tons of stories in the Bible that show failed parenting. Honestly, no one does parenting right 100% of the time. We all could use better skills in this area. No parent is perfect.

In The Titus Ten book, I share in a whole chapter about loving your children and point out some practical application for doing so. You can also see my other blogpost "Raising Soldiers" in The Daughters of the Deep community January 9th. I have thought about children a lot since we have two of them. The way we do parenting or not effectively shapes our world. I think of our two boys as our first disciples. We can literally mold and shape them. We place them in front of Jesus on a daily basis. However, we are in the world where pressures to conform to ungodly standards abound. It is difficult to motivate ourselves to do what we should as parents and it is difficult to taylor our discipling to each child individually. Thank the Lord for all the godly parents who pray for their children on a regular basis, take them to church and do not cause harm to them unintentionally.

Unfortunately, current child abuse statistics show that:
  • just over 1,500 children die each year in the United States from child abuse and neglect
  • 905,000 children were the victims of child abuse in 2006
  • 70 percent of child abuse victims are under age three years old
  • over 80 percent of the abused children were abused by one the child's parent
  • neglect is the most common form of child abuse, followed by physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and lastly, medical neglect
Most importantly, everyone should be aware that victims of child abuse come from all socioeconomic backgrounds, living situations, and races.
By Vincent Iannelli, M.D., Guide

I am horrified at the abuse of a child by their own parents. The Bible has much to say about this.
Mark 9:42, KJV - And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
Abuse may range from crushing a child's spirit to murder. God cares greatly about children whether the parents do or not. Anyone suspecting that a child is being abused should report it to their state child abuse hotline or call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD). Visiting a state's child abuse website will also help you learn about mandatory child abuse reporting laws that you may be subject to. Also remember that if you think that a child is in immediate danger from child abuse or neglect, then you should call 911.

Abuse can happen to a child when we give them too much of what they do not need or they or we neglect what they need the most. 
Consider spiritual abuse. It is what happens when we attempt to raise and love our children apart from the Holy Spirit. What children need most is a relationship with God. They need to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Only that relationship in their lives will sustain them through adulthood. Have you ever stopped to consider that? When we neglect to disciple our children, we deny them the kingdom of God. When the disciples were ready to push the children aside as Jesus was preaching, he clearly drew them to himself and said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven". A man and a woman were created to parent the first child ever born, not two men or two women. The only perfect parent is God. Ask His advice. Read His rulebook. Invite Him to your family meetings. He will come alongside and fill in all the gaps. 

Let us be careful to care for our children. They belong to God. He formed them, shaped them and designed them with skills, talents and abilities for His glory. It is our job and privilege to grow and nurture them into a relationship with the One who gives them purpose.