Sunday, February 28, 2010

With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

Do you find yourself struggling to find positive things in your suppose to praise? Have you checked your own heart? Could it be you expect too much in some areas?

Our expectations must be met in God alone, and then we will have the right perspective to ask God for the healing and grace we need to respond to others.

love lets the other win

The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield. James 3:17

In Philippians 2 Christ modeled an attitude of willingness, flexibility, and humble submission - laying down his rights for the good of others.

Be willing to not insist on your own way. Instead of treating your spouse like an enemy or someone to be guarded against, start by treating him/her as your closest, most honored friend.

Are you willing to bend to demonstrate love to your spouse? If it doesn't matter in the long run--especially in eternity--then give up your rights and choose to honor the one you love.

The Love Dare, p 58

love cherishes

Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. Ephesians 5:28

Marriage is a beautiful mystery created by God, joining two lives together as one. One cannot experience joy or pain, blessing or cursing, without it also affecting the other. Your spouse is as much a part of you as your hand, your eye, or your heart. Nourish and cherish the love of your life.

The Love Dare, pp 52-53

love is unconditional

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love. God doesn't love us because we are lovable but because He is so loving. Unconditional love will not be swayed by time or circumstance.

The Love Dare, pp 46-47

As you receive unconditional love from God, choose to love your spouse unconditionally. Then you will no longer say "I love you because, but rather, "I love you, period." quick to listen, slow to speak... James 1:19b

As you are trying to not speak negatively to your spouse and focusing on positive encouragement now also be quick to listen.

Remember we have two ears and one mouth -- we need to listen more.

love makes good impressions

Greet one another with a kiss of love. 1 Peter 5:14

A loving greeting can bless your spouse through what they see, hear, and feel. Think of the opportunities you have to greet each other on a regular basis. Give your spouse value by the way you greet him/her. Determine your greeting will reflect your love.

The Love Dare, p 43

As I get more intentional with my greetings and smiling at my husband from my heart, I see Brad stand a little straighter and relax more. It's as if I've taken a load off his back.

We're big huggers so our greetings are often nice big hugs. But where I used to just go through the motions of hugging I now hug him with my heart and there is a big difference!

Make a good impression on your spouse -- one that will last all day long. It's as simple as greeting your spouse with a kiss (and a smile) of love.

love is not jealous

..."love your neighbor as yourself". If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:14b-15

Because love is not selfish and puts others first, it refuses to let jealousy in. Let love, humility, and gratefulness destroy any jealousy that springs up in your heart.

Determine to be your spouse's biggest fan. Set your heart on your spouse and focus on his/her achievements.

The Love Dare, p38

About 13 years ago my husband, Brad, was working a lot of late nights. I eventually convinced myself he was having an affair. It took me awhile but I worked up the courage one night to ask him if he was having an affair. He looked at me with a bewildered look on his face and said, "yes". I almost died. Then he said, "why would you ask me if I have enough air?"

My friends, to this day, love to tease me about this. As I write this now I am laughing and crying. Back then, though, I was so jealous of the time my husband was spending away from me I allowed the enemy in and whisper lies to me. To my husband's credit this little story proves how faithful he is - an affair was the farthest thing from his mind -- so far that when I spoke the words "an affair" he heard "enough air".

Faithfulness is a wonderful but rare quality today. We can encourage faithfulness by rooting out all negative speaking and planting seeds of encouragement instead.
[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. -- 1 Corinthians 13:7

Money is the root of much marital discord. Determine not to speak evil of your spouse in this area. Discover ways to encourage and help instead.

love believes the best

If there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8

According to the book, there are two rooms in your heart: the Appreciation Room, on its walls are written all the things you love about your spouse and the Depreciation Room, on its walls are written the things that bother and irritate you - placed there out of frustration, hurt feelings, and disappointment.

The only reason you should glance in the door of the Depreciation Room is to know how to pray for your spouse. The only reason you should ever go in is to write "COVERED IN LOVE" in huge letters across the walls.

Love chooses to believe the best about people. It gives them the benefit of the doubt.

It's time to move into the Appreciation Room, to settle in and make it your home.

You must develop the habit of reining in your negative thoughts and focusing on the positive attributes of your mate. This is a crucial step as you learn to lead your heart to truly love your spouse.

Pick a positive attribute and thank your spouse for having this characteristic.

The Love Dare, p.33
...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. I Corinthians 10:31b

Praise your spouse's accomplishments in public, while he/she is listening.

love is not irritable

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34

How easily do you get irritated and offended? Love sets up your heart to respond to your spouse with patience and encouragement rather than anger and exasperation.

Choose to react to tough circumstances in your marriage in loving ways instead of with irritation.

The Love Dare, pp 26, 28-29

Don't forget to talk with someone close to you if you need encouragement.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

Edify your spouse before others and increase his/her value in their eyes.

love is not rude

Genuine love minds its manners. Here are three guiding principles:

1. Guard the Golden Rule. Treat your spouse the same way you want to be treated (see Luke 6:31)

2. No double standards. Be as considerate to your spouse as you are to friends and strangers.

3. Honor requests. Consider what your spouse already asked you to do or not do. If in doubt, then ask - without attacking or justifying your behavior.

The Love Dare, pp 21, 23

Side note: this applies to our kids, too. I'm sure, like me, you have plenty of teaching opportunities to encourage your kids to be respectful rather than rude. In fact, as I'm typing this I'm telling my kids, "Both of you are being rude. Please think about the people around you and be more respectful."

love is thoughtful

How precious also are Your thoughts to me. O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. Psalm 139:17-18

Love requires thoughtfulness - on both sides - the kind that builds bridges through the constructive combination of patience, kindness, and selflessness. Love teaches you how to meet in the middle, to respect and appreciate how your spouse uniquely thinks.

Love thinks before speaking. It filters words through a grid of truth and kindness.

Spend a few minutes today thinking about how you could better understand and demonstrate love to your spouse. Great marriages come from great thinking.

The Love Dare, p18

Just so you know, I suck at this. The last 3 days have been so hard. Press on, my friend.

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:2-5

love is not selfish

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard another as more important than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Whatever you put your time, energy, and money into will become more important to you. It's hard to care for something you are not investing in. Along with restraining from negative comments, buy [or make] your spouse something that says, "I was thinking of you today." The Love Dare, p14

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor. Romans 12:10

love is kind

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

Love determines to show thoughtful actions even when there seems to be no reward. You will never learn to love until you learn to demonstrate kindness.

The Love Dare p8

Today, say nothing negative to your spouse and do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.

Here's my bonus challenge: serve your spouse without worrying about your rights.
Find some way that your spouse is serving you or your family and praise him/her for the willingness to serve others. Let your spouse know that you see his/her unique service as a great strength.
Thank your spouse for choosing to marry you above all others.

love is patient

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2 NIV

Few of us do patience very well, and none of us do it naturally. But wise men and women will pursue it as an essential ingredient to their marriage realtionships. That's a good starting point to demonstrate true love.

Today, resolve to possess patience. Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. But it's a race worth running.

The Love Dare, p3

Trust me, you'll have plenty of opportunities to practice being patient. Don't give up. When you feel like you didn't do so well in a situation (like me, just a few minutes ago) humble yourself and apologize. Then try again.

My very thoughtful god-daughter and god-son-in-law bought me a “My Husband Rocks” t-shirt for my birthday. Check the Union 28 website out here.

Union 28 is a company committed to encouraging marriage relationships, communicating a positive image of marriage, and honoring the sanctity of the marriage covenant. When I checked out Union 28’s website it led me to some great marriage links. One was the 30-day Husband Encouragement Challenge. Check it out here.

I’ve encouraged some of my girlfriends to take on the 30-day challenge along with me. What a blessing for your husband, your marriage, and you - if you take the challenge, too.


What a journey we've been on. Praise the Lord the adventure continues...