Working Toward Harmonious Relationships

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I’ve remembered what this speaker said for decades.

I don’t remember his main topic or even where I heard him. But at some point in his talk, he mentioned a husband forgetting his wedding anniversary. And then he said something like this: “Wives, don’t stand back with arms folded, tapping your foot, waiting to see if he remembers, and then lowering the boom when he doesn’t. Help him remember.”

How wise. “Getting after him” in some way—pouting, anger, silent treatment—will only make him feel guilty, maybe even defensive. And the day that’s supposed celebrate love turns into a negative experience. You might think, “Well, he ruined it first.” However, we can either redeem the situation or make it worse by our reaction.

My husband doesn’t usually forget special occasions. But this speaker’s advice  filtered into my thinking to apply generally to how we deal with each other’s foibles. “Punishing” or getting back at each other or stewing in resentment compounds the negative and widens the breach. How can we work towards harmony and away from dissension?

Look for ways to help.

Perhaps a week or two before an anniversary (or birthday or whatever), we could casually say, “Do you want to do anything special on our anniversary?” We could even invite him to something we’ve planned.

This principle goes so much farther than marriage and anniversaries. It applies to any relationship. If a child constantly forgets a chore, instead of incessantly nagging, we can find another way to help them remember: a chore chart, a privilege after his work is done, etc. If a wife is constantly late, perhaps a husband can help the kids get their shoes on so that’s one less thing she has to do.

Confront kindly when necessary.

Does that mean we can never confront each other about a problem or tell another when he has hurt our feelings or offended us in some way? No, of course not. Working out these issues helps the relationship progress and get even closer—if the issue is handled in a kind, thoughtful, edifying way rather than an angry or punishing manner.

“Do unto others . . “

Jesus said, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 6:31). Would we want someone to scowl or withdraw if we failed them in some way? Or would we prefer a frank discussion? Would a preliminary reminder help, or would that seem like nagging?

Take into account different personalities and “love languages.

Perhaps a husband shows love by working hard, keeping up with repairs at home, keeping the lawn mowed. Tell him how much you appreciate all of that—and then suggest that, just every now and then, flowers or candy or a nice dinner out or watching a romantic movie together would really make you feel special. Perhaps she showers you with gifts, but you’d really appreciate a compliment once in a while. There might not be a way for her to know that unless you gently and kindly tell her.

Choose what’s most important.

Perhaps he leaves things out of place. We might resent that he’s created even more work for us. We could tell him how debris around the house makes us feel. Or we could just pick it up.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8).

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses (Proverbs 10:12).

Forbear and forgive.

None of us has to be doormats. We should never put up with abuse or outright sin. But we do have to accept that no one is perfect. (This article helps differentiate between things we shouldn’t let go).

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3).

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:12-14).

Build up instead of tearing down.

However we handle these issues, we need to keep in mind our goal. The aim isn’t “Everyone do everything my way”—or shouldn’t be. The goal is harmony, feeding and increasing our love for each other, and building one another up.

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. (Proverbs 14:1)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:19).

Sometimes a choir or musical group will sing in unison, but more often they sing in harmony. Different voices bring different tones and notes into play, yet the outcome is all the more beautiful for the differences that come together into a beautiful whole. It takes a lot to get to that place. The composer has to arrange the piece. The leader has to interpret it. The instrumentalists and singers all have to learn their parts. They have have to practice together several times. Some might be too loud or soft, too fast or slow at first. But finally, each individual part works together with the rest, and the effect can bring tears to our eyes.

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:5-6).

What are ways you work towards harmony in relationships?

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday [Anita wrote about relationships this week, too, and brought out factors I hadn’t thought about], Global Blogging, Senior Salon,
Hearth and Soul, Literary Musing Monday, Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story,
Happy Now, InstaEncouragement, Anchored Abode, Recharge Wednesday,
Share a Link Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Heart Encouragement,
Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network)

A quick 40th anniversary get-away

Our anniversary is just a few days before Christmas. With everything else going on that month, we don’t usually exchange anniversary gifts. We exchange cards and go for a nice dinner out, a quiet spot for just the two of us during a busy season.

But since we celebrated 40 years of marriage this past December, we thought we’d do a little something special. Our kids had gone together earlier to give us a gift card to use for our celebration. We did go out for our dinner at a favorite local restaurant the night before our anniversary. Our oldest son flew in the day of our anniversary, and that day was the last opportunity to go to Christmas in the Cavern. We decided to wait until the week after Christmas to celebrate. My husband was off New Year’s week, but everyone else went back to work.

Previously I never would have thought of staying in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area because they’re so close to home. But a friend posted pictures on Facebook about staying in a bed and breakfast there. The area was so pretty, I began to think about the possibility of going there for our anniversary.

We didn’t stay in that bed and breakfast, but Jim found the very nice Bearskin Lodge. The lobby looked like this:

Our room balcony opened over a stream running over rocks.

We really enjoyed the fireplace.

The rest of the room:

Very cozy!

We drove up Thursday afternoon and just chilled out in the room for a bit. We went out to dinner at The Peddler Steakhouse, right next to the hotel. The food was delicious. But the restaurant was very crowded and noisy. We felt really rushed. Jim asked the waitress about getting an appetizer, and she said she’d be back to see what he wanted, but she never did come back til after we got our meal. The lady refilling the salad bar elbowed me and others to get where she needed to go. Our silverware had bits of food stuck on. Altogether it was not the best experience, sad not only because it was for our anniversary, but also because this is a pricey place.

By the time they asked if we wanted dessert, we just wanted to go. Plus they didn’t have any dessert we wanted. There didn’t seem to be any coffee shops or dessert places nearby, so we stopped across the street at Old Dad’s General Store. Jim got a Nutty Buddy ice cream cone and I got a peanut butter cookie. Then we went back to the room and watched the Vols win the Gator Bowl (Yay!).

But before that, when we drove back to the lodge, Jim pulled out a couple of boxes from the car that I hadn’t noticed before. He said he had an activity in mind. I was intrigued!

When we got settled back in our room, he let me open the boxes. He had filled them with notes we had written each other when we were dating. Our college, in the days before cell phones or even phones in the rooms, had a note system whereby guys and girls could send notes to each others’ dorm rooms. Every dorm lobby had a box with slots for the other dorms, and we’d deposit our notes there. Then several of the guys would run the boxes around to each of the dorms and deliver the mail to the lobby. That was the primary way guys asked girls out for dates then. For dating couples, it was a nice way to say good-night and make arrangements for the next day (when to meet for lunch, etc.). We dated for two years, so nine months of nightly notes times two years … would be a lot! Jim said he didn’t gather all the notes. just as many as would fit in the boxes. Some time we need to sort through them. That night we took turns reading several of them out loud to each other. Such memories! It was funny how many of them started out saying we didn’t have time to write much because we had tests or projects due, but then we’d go on for two pages. I have to say, I was very impressed that he thought of doing this!

We got a surprise when we went to take showers the next morning. The water was cold even after running it for a long time. I was up first, and thought perhaps the hot and cold were reversed (that’s happened in some places). So I turned the dial to the right, but that took it from cold to icy cold. I turned it back to the left and tried to decide what to do. I didn’t want to mess with going to another room at that point, and didn’t know if perhaps the whole hotel was having a problem. I decided to step in, away from the shower head, and just try to do a quick sponge bath. By the time I was done, the water was lukewarm enough that I could stand under it and rinse. Jim had the same experience a half-hour or so later. When he went down to the desk to mention it, he was told they have a boiler that starts up on the fifth floor (we were on the third). They said it just takes a while to work its way down, so we just have to run the water in the sink and shower until it warmed up. Well, that would have been nice to know! And I can’t fathom wasting all that water. I imagine later on, when more people are up and showering, the water is circulating better and warmer. At least I hope so. That was our only complaint about the lodge.

We ate breakfast and then rested in the room for a bit. Then we went to see the Titanic Museum.

We had passed this several times on our way to other attractions in previous years, and I always wanted to stop in some day.

You might be able to tell in the picture that the lady letting us in was dressed as a crew member would have been back in the day. All the employees were.

When you first enter, they give you a boarding pass that has the name and information of one of the passengers or crew that were actually aboard the Titanic.

Unfortunately, they don’t allow photos inside the museum. They give you an audio device when you come in, and at certain sections you can push a button to listen to more information. But we never did. They had a different button for children to hear something they might be interested in.

They had several rooms, one dedicated to the man who drew up the plans, another to the man who took most of the pre-sail photographs, etc. There were artifacts like life jackets, a piece of railing, letters. One of the most interesting parts to me was a big cross-section. A panel in front told about the different areas, and you could push a button to see that area light up.

I read that the entire museum was built to half-scale. They built the grand staircase exactly to scale as well as a really small (by our standards) room.

I found it interesting that they gave a good amount of space to the “spiritual heroes” of the Titanic. The man on Jim’s boarding pass was one. Another was John Harper, subject of The Titanic’s Last Hero. He was known for asking everyone his bit of flotsam floated to whether they were ready for eternity and quoting Acts 16:31: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” I read the book years ago but need to do so again some time. We wondered if we were related to him. I’d like to think so.

At the end they had some photos and information about the effort to explore and recover as much of the Titanic as they could.

They also had a Lego replica of the Titanic built by a a 14 year-old autistic boy over eleven months. It’s 26 by 5 feet and used 56,000 Legos, quite a fete.

There was a very small area for children. We thought it a little weird that the had a child-sized ship’s steering wheel with a screen in front of it so kids could see if they could miss the iceberg.

I never saw the Titanic movie, but I think lots of things in the gift shop might have been inspired by the movie.

I’m glad we went. We had often discussed whether we should do so as a family or just the two of us. I don’t think Timothy would have gotten much out of it—maybe when he’s older and learning about it, he might be interested then.

When we got done there, we looked for a place to eat. One funny instance of my brain not working right: every time I looked up restaurants or attractions on Google maps, it showed them being 4. something miles away. I thought that was so odd. As we searched for a place to eat on our phones, I found the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant. That place is a favorite for me. We’ve eaten there several times before, and it has special memories because once when my mom, step-dad, and siblings were visiting, we met my aunt and uncle there. I mentioned it to Jim but noted that it was 4.5 miles away. He said his phone only showed it at only .04 miles away. I looked again—and realized that all this time, I had been looking at the star ratings, thinking that was mileage. Duh!

But we were delighted it was so close. We had a great meal there, and they have some little shops and a bakery as well. It had been too wet and cold to walk around the shops at Gatlinburg, so this finished off our visit just right.

One nice thing about going on a trip like this is that’s one of the few times I feel officially “off.” No cooking, no dishes to wash, someone else picks up the wet towels and makes the bed. So it was a nice little vacation for me, especially after the fun busyness of Christmas.

But mostly it was special just to go out and spend some time alone together doing something different and fun.

(Sharing with Global Blogging, Hearth and Soul, Senior Salon, Happy Now, InstaEncouragement, Worth Beyond Rubies)

On our 40th anniversary

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This evening marks 40 years my husband and I have been married!

I had not planned to post about it until next week’s Friday’s Fave Five. But then I accidentally came across a post from ten years ago on 30 things I love about my husband on our 30th anniversary. So I thought I’d repeat and expand it.

40 Things I Love About My Husband:

1. He loves God.

2. He fulfills well the admonition in Deuteronomy 6:7 to teach children God’s Word in the course of daily life: “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Jeremy has said he gets more out of a conversation with his dad than almost any sermon.

3. He is a wonderful father.

4. He leads gently, not tyrannically or despotically.

5. He has kind eyes.

6. He kills bugs for me.

Barbara's Cell phone pics 0507. If he drives my car and notices the gas is low, he fills the car up for me.

8. He knows how to fix a multitude of things.

9. He is smart.

10. He can usually handle problems and issues with people firmly but not angrily.

11. He is calm in a crisis and knows what to do or can figure it out in short order.

12. He has a great sense of humor.

13. He is very patient with my foibles.

14. He is a great griller!

image015. After Thanksgiving dinner he gets the rest of the meat off the turkey and then cleans out the roasting pan.

16. Sometimes he will clean the bathrooms unasked and unexpectedly.

17. He has a strong work ethic. He not only works hard and long to support us, he likes to do his best at any task.

CIMG513818. He took excellent care of his mother.

19. He is generous.

20. He has a lot of financial savvy.

21. He has a lot of sanctified common sense.

22. He is discerning.

23. He is generally more relaxed than I am. I appreciate the counter balance to my tenseness.

24. He can handle most of the technological stuff.

25. He is thoughtful.

26. He is more outgoing than I am.

27. Though he probably would say he doesn’t feel at ease in social situations, he handles them with apparent ease.

28. He is generally more upbeat and cheerful than I am. If he does get into a bad mood of some kind, it doesn’t usually last long.

29. He is still a gentleman.

30. He’s a man of strong principles.

31. He builds things for me.

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32. When there’s one piece left of a special treat he knows I like, he leaves it for me.

33. He’s a wonderful father-in-law.

34. He’s a wonderful granddad.

35. He listens when I need to talk something out.

36. He likes to find good deals.

37. He likes to problem-solve and is good at it.

38. He is compassionate.

39. He shows his love to me in countless ways every day.

40. He made this video for me eleven years ago to one of my favorite songs: “The Voyage,” sung by John McDermott of the Irish Tenors. I love to watch it every year. Some day we need to make an updated version.

Happy, happy anniversary! I wouldn’t have wanted to spend the last 40 years with anyone but you!

(Sharing with Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Hearth and Soul, Happy Now, InstaEncouragement, Grace and Truth)

Book Review: Honey, I Don’t Have a Headache Tonight

Many Christians are in a quandary when it comes to talking about sex.

We know God invented it. We know He created it not just for procreation, but for our enjoyment, within the parameters He ordained (Song of Solomon, Proverbs 5:18-19, Hebrews 13:4).

The Bible is actually quite frank about a number of matters that we wouldn’t express in exactly the same way today. Perhaps the culture at the time allowed for that. Perhaps our over-charged sexual culture these days causes us to keep all discussion of sex to “the talk” parents give their children, to premarital counseling, and between husband and wife.

One of my professors at a Christian college, I think in a class about the home I took as a Home Economics Education major, recommended The Act of Marriage by Tim and Beverly LaHaye. Of course, we knew the basics, nature will take its course, and people will figure it out (and have for thousands of years). But some of us like to be a bit better prepared.

I just rediscovered another helpful book that I had hidden away (perhaps so my sons wouldn’t stumble across it when they were younger) and forgotten about: Honey, I Don’t Have a Headache Tonight by Sheila Wray Gregoire.

The theme of the book is a common problem: men are usually “in the mood” more often than women are. Sometimes the situation is reversed (in as many as 1/3 of marriages at the time this book was written). Sheila addresses some of the matters that cause this discrepancy and shares ways to deal with them from a Biblical basis. There’s a chapter on each of the following topics:

  • Men and women are wired differently.
  • Paying attention to the rest of the marriage will affect the sexual aspect.
  • Lack of energy
  • The problem of pornography, past abuse, wrong attitudes, and “reclaiming godly sexuality”
  • Respect
  • Romance
  • Roles and gender
  • Self-image

The last chapter deals with a number of questions and problem issues.

A few quotes from the book:

We treat sex as if it’s something purely instinctive, not something imbued with all the relational and emotional components that God gave it (p. 64).

God made sex because He wants us to enjoy it. It’s precious. But think of how you treat other precious things. Men who collect antique cars polish them, wax them, and watch for any blemish or problem so they can take care of it before it gets out of control. They’re constantly vigilant. We need to have the same attitude about sex. It’s precious, it’s fragile, and it needs our tender care so that it can shine, too (p. 80).

Don’t feed your mind with romance novels, soap operas, or other harmful illusions that will just make you chronically unsatisfied. Take the initiative yourself to warm up the relationship to romance (p. 97).

While I didn’t agree with every little point in the book, overall I found it very helpful. I debated with myself a long time about whether to mention the book here on the blog. But since, as I mentioned earlier, these matters are common problems, I thought I’d share this as a good resource. And it’s a good resource even without problems, since it emphasizes the relationship, unselfishness, thoughtfulness, and marriage as the picture God intended.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Global Blogging, Happy Now, Carole’s Books You Loved, Booknificent)

Don’t Make Your Spouse Feel Like an Outsider

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I don’t usually offer unsolicited parenting advice, because a lot of moms are sensitive to it. I am not sure what brought this to mind today, but as I found myself thinking about it, I decided to try to write those thoughts down – perhaps they may be of help to someone.

It’s natural when Mom is home with little kids that certain routines arise. It’s good to involve your child in your day, and they enjoy the togetherness as much as the “helping.” Maybe Little One always closes the dishwasher door for you after you’ve loaded the dishes, or always puts the canned goods in the pantry after coming home from the grocery store, or always cuddles with a drink and a blanket and book before nap time, or whatever. Then when Dad is home during the evenings or on weekends, he has no idea about such routines and can’t understand why Little One is crying while he’s putting the canned goods away or why shutting the dishwasher door caused a major meltdown.

If Mom scolds impatiently because Dad has done it “wrong,” Little One is going to pick up on the resentment, and Dad is going to feel like an outsider in his own family.

In the immediate moment, a gentle explanation is in order, and maybe Baby can be given a can to put away or the door can be opened so he/ she can shut it. I’m not for a little one calling the shots or ruling the roost, but I don’t think this is a case of “giving in” to his or her wants. I think this is not so much a case of selfishness or wilfulness as it is just disappointment. At some point Baby needs to learn not to melt down over every disappointment, but that is easier to deal with when you can talk and reason more later on. Perhaps early training can begin that way by saying, “It’s ok. As soon as you stop crying, you can put this can away,” etc.

In the bigger picture, Mom can welcome Dad into their routines. Perhaps Mom can talk about their routines in the ordinary course of life. “It’s so cute that she likes to help me put the cans away.” That way Dad is familiar with them. Or let him know ahead of time, while bringing the groceries in, that you usually let Baby put away the cans.

In addition, let Dad and Baby establish their own routines. Maybe Dad can do bath time or bed time, at least some times. Once when I walked by as my husband was helping one of our little guys with a bath, I heard him say, “It’s pancake time!” And I thought, “Pancake time? In the bath tub?” I backtracked and peeked in. What he was referring to was pouring the shampoo on the little one’s head like syrup on a pancake. My first thought was, “You know, it uses less shampoo if you pour a little bit in your hands and rub them together.” But I didn’t say it. I figured in the long run the amount of shampoo wasn’t that big a deal, and it was cute that that was a part of their ritual. And they never asked me for “pancake time” during baths, accepting that that was a dad thing. One of their other routines, when the boys were older, involved going to an indoor swimming pool on certain evenings (Tuesdays, I think) and getting donuts afterward. Not only was that a fun routine for them, it gave me a little bit of solitude, and they brought me a donut afterward. 🙂

Dads can help by understanding that a certain amount of this is going to be inevitable when Mom and the kids spend all day together and avoid getting feelings hurt over it. Participate, ask to help, let Mom know if you’re feeling left out.

Something else we have to watch out for is that we can get so wrapped up in our kids and their needs that we neglect our husband and his. That need weighs on us with our children because they’re so helpless, and we feel our husbands can take care of themselves. But that’s not how we felt when we married them! It can be difficult, especially with young babies, but this is another way in which it’s important to let dads in, to let him handle the baby’s care sometimes – both so you’re not overloaded, and so he can increase his time and interaction with the baby. He may not do everything just like you would, but that’s okay.

And, of course, this can involve other scenarios than little ones’ routines: a spouse can feel left out if one is on top of the family schedule and the other misses a memo, or if mom and the kids always get ice cream on Mondays after school (one of our routines the last several years of school), and dad didn’t know or forgot when he picked them up. As kids get older, they can be taught to be gracious, to respect others’ feelings, not to whine when something doesn’t go their way, to ask respectfully rather than throw a tantrum or sulk, etc. Not making someone feel left out of the loop becomes a family issue and not just a marital issue.

And, also, it’s not only dads who sometimes feel left out. Sometimes he is the one who is at home more, or who has fun routines with the kids, or who has regular activities with them that don’t include mom (hunting, sports, etc.).

The point is to remember that you’re a family unit. That doesn’t mean everyone has to do everything together all the time. We used to go camping as a family, but when I got transverse myelitis, that became more difficult for me. So sometimes my husband and sons went either by themselves or with a men-and-boys church activity. Once they were close enough that I drove over to eat the dinner that my husband prepared at the campsite, and we sat around the campfire and roasted marshmallows and made s’mores. Then before it got dark I drove to my climate-controlled home and comfortable bed while they enjoyed the rest of their camping experience. 🙂 And I still felt included because I heard all about the rest of the adventures when they got home. When my husband traveled a lot, we looked for ways to keep him from feeling out of the loop.

Keep the lines of communication open, keep each other informed, be gracious when a slip-up happens, find ways to include each other, share conversation and possibly photos about experiences even if the experiences themselves can’t be shared.

What ways have you found to help your spouse feel included in your day to day rituals and activities?

(Silhouettes courtesy of clipartfest.com)

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Wise Woman, Faith on Fire)

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31 Days With Elisabeth Elliot: Enjoying the 80%

Elisabeth Elliot2I’ve always thought this was quite poignant for marriage, and in many ways applicable in other relationships as well. How we need to build up rather than tear down.

My second husband once said that a wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to eighty percent of her expectations. There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy ( From Love Has a Price Tag).

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. Romans 14:19

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

See all the posts in this series here.

Quotes about love beyond Valentine’s Day

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In the past I have written about how much I love Valentine’s Day, how we celebrate it, foods we use, favorite love songs, quotes, etc., and I plan to enjoy some of those things to the hilt today (I hope you can, too!) This year I wanted to do something different. All of those other things are fun, but real love (not just romantic love, but loving our families, our neighbors, and even our enemies) involves more and is often difficult, especially when our different wills, desires, or habits clash. These quotes help me in the everyday life, rubber meeting the road kind of challenges of loving other people. Maybe they’ll be a help to you, too.

The springs of love are in God, not in us. It is absurd to look for the love of God in our hearts naturally; it is only there when it has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

— Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, April 30

Love means to love that which is unlovable; or it is no virtue at all.

– G K Chesterton

To love those whom we do not like means that we treat them as if we did like them — to choose to act kindly toward them even though we do not like them….The Bible does not ask us to like the brethren, it asks us to love them, and that means, therefore, something like this: we may not like certain Christians. I mean by that, there is none of this instinctive, elemental attraction; they are not the people whom we naturally like; yet what we are told is that to love them means that we treat them exactly as if we did like them. Now, the men and women of the world do not do that; if they do not like people, they treat them accordingly and have nothing to do with them. But Christian love means that we look beyond that. We see the Christian in them, the brother or sister, and we even go beyond what we do not like, and we help that person. Love your brethren — that is the exhortation with which we are concerned.

— Martyn Lloyd-Jones on I John 3:16-18 in his book Children of God

How many of you will join me in reading this chapter (I Corinthians 13) once a week for the next three months? A man did that once and it changed his whole life. Will you do it? It is for the greatest thing in the world. You might begin by reading it every day, especially the verses which describe the perfect character. “Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself.” Get these ingredients into your life. Then everything that you do is eternal. It is worth doing. It is worth giving time to. No man can become a saint in his sleep; and to fulfill the condition required demands a certain amount of prayer and meditation and time, just as improvement in any direction, bodily or mental, requites preparation and care. Address yourselves to that one thing; at any cost have this transcendent character exchanged for yours.

– Henry Drummond, The Greatest Thing in the World

Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also many things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called “being in love” usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending “They lived happily ever after” is taken to mean “They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,” then it says what probably was never was or ever could be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from “being in love” is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both parents ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be “in love” with someone else. “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.

– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

The labor of self-love is a heavy one indeed. Think whether much of your sorrow has not arisen from someone speaking slightingly of you. As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal, how can you hope to find inward peace? – A.W. Tozer

As we remember the lovingkindness of the Lord, we see how good it was to find our own strength fail us, since it drove us to the strong for strength. – Spurgeon

Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1b-3.

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. I Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV.

 

Our 35th Anniversary!

35 years ago I was blessed to marry a wise, wonderful, kind and caring man. I thank God for a wonderful marriage and a great family!

Yesterday we went to my son and daughter-in-law’s house, thinking we were just there to visit, have lunch, and see her mom, who was visiting for a few days. But the kids surprised us with an anniversary celebration!

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They got us a couple of special ornaments made by the Photo Barn.

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And one of our most special gifts ever – they had this special book made with photos and memories.

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Then we came home and took a nap. 🙂 And then we had someone come in to watch Great-Grandma and we went out on a rare date to Outback and then came home and watched a movie. 🙂

Since today is busy with church activities, we did most of our celebrating yesterday, and overall it was a lovely day!

On our 30th anniversary I posted 30 things I love about my husband.All of those things are still true. 🙂

A few years ago Jim made this video for me, and I think I have posted it every year since. 🙂 The song is “The Voyage,” sung by John McDermott, one of the original Irish Tenors.

31 Days of Inspirational Biographies: Rosalind Goforth Learns Submission

I mentioned in yesterday’s post a little book by missionary Rosalind Goforth called Climbing, one of my all-time favorites. She and her husband were missionaries to China from1888-1936. She had written his biography, and then by request wrote Climbing about missionary life and furlough from her perspective. I think one thing missionaries would want us to know is that they are not “super-Christians,” but rather people “of like passions” as we are, and this humorous incident in Rosalind’s life illustrates not only that but also the importance of being consistently in God’s Word so it can speak to you.

The following is the most notable incident connected with this habit of memorizing Scripture. I give it, for, judging by the effect it has had upon men and women to whom I have told this story, it touches a vital point in the relation of husband and wife. It certainly brought to my husband and myself a lesson never forgotten.

Our children were all away at school. We were together carrying on aggressive evangelism at a distant out-station. The room given to us was dark and damp, with the usual mud floor. The weather, had turned cold, and there was no place where one could get warm. I caught a cold. It was not a severe one, but enough to make me rather miserable. The third or fourth day, when the meetings were in full swing and my organ was taking an attracting part, I became possessed by a great longing to visit my dearly loved friend, Miss H., living at the Weihuifu Station, some hours run south on the railway. But when I told my husband what I had in mind, he strongly objected and urged against my going. I would not listen, even when he said my going would break up at least the women’s work. But I was determined to go and ordered the cart for the trip to the railway. As the cart started and I saw my husband’s sad, disappointed, white face, I would have stopped, but I wanted to show him I must have my way sometimes!

Oh, what a miserable time I had till my friend’s home in Weihuifu was reached! Miss H. gave one glance at my face and exclaimed: “Whatever is the matter, Mrs. Goforth! Are you ill?”

My only answer was to break down sobbing. Of course I could not tell her WHY. Miss H. insisted on putting me to bed, saying I was ill! She made me promise to remain there until after breakfast.

The following morning, while waiting for breakfast, I opened my Testament and started to memorize, as usual, my three verses. Now it happened I was at that time memorizing the Epistle to the Ephesians and had reached the fifth chapter down to the twenty-first verse. The twenty-second, the first of the three to be memorized that morning, read: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands as unto the Lord.” I was, to say at the least, startled! Somehow I managed to get this bravely memorized. Then going on to the twenty-third verse, these words faced me: “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body.”

For a moment a feeling of resentment, even anger, arose. I could not treat this word as a woman once did, putting it aside with the remark: “That is where Paul and I differ.” I believed the Epistle to the Ephesians was inspired, if any portion of Scripture was. How could I dare cut out this one part to which I was unwilling to submit? How I managed to memorize that twenty-third verse I do not know, for all the while a desperate mental struggle was on. Then came the twenty-fourth verse: “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”

I could not memorize further: my mind was too agitated. “It just comes to this,” I thought, “Am I willing, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, to submit my will (in all but matters of conscience) to my husband?” The struggle was short but intense. At last I cried, “For CHRIST’s sake, I yield!” Throwing a dressing gown about me, I ran to the top of the stairs and called to my friend, “When does the next train go?”

“In about half an hour,” she replied, “but you couldn’t catch it and have your breakfast.”

“Never mind; I’m going to get that train!”

My friend insisted on accompanying me to the station; we ate as we almost ran. With what joy I at last found myself traveling northward!

On reaching my destination, imagine my surprise to find my husband, with a happy twinkle in his eye, standing on the platform!

“Why, Jonathan,” I cried, “how did you know I was coming?”

His reply was simply a happy, “Oh, I knew you would come.”

Later I told my husband frankly all I had passed through. What was the result? From that time, he gave me my way as never before, for does not verse 25 of the chapter quoted go on to say: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” A new realization of the need of yieldedness came to us both, which brought blessed results in our home life.

I don’t think she is saying at the end that her little adventure “paid off,” but rather that God used the incident and their conversation together to open both their eyes to each other’s needs.

Though I am sure it wasn’t funny at the time, I always find this story humorous and I am glad she “told on” herself in her book. But beyond the incident itself, it shows how the Lord can guide and correct us when we are regularly in His Word.

(You can find this book on sale at Amazon and various places, but the text is also online here.)

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For the 31 Days writing challenge, I am sharing 31 Days of Inspirational Biography. You can find others in the series here.

31 Days of Inspirational Biography: The “Uncommon Union” of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards

Marriage to a Difficult Man by Elisabeth D. Dodds is a story of what Jonathan Edwards called on his deathbed his “uncommon union” with his wife, Sarah. The author does not mean Edwards was “difficult” in a negative sense, but rather that his lack of social skills combined with what she calls his “genius” made him perhaps a little hard to adapt to.

In fact, when Edwards “first showed an interest in Sarah, he scared her.” “Already it was clear that this glowering young man was touched by the fatal ingredient of greatness.” He had “entered college at the age of thirteen,” had been the “valedictory orator, and was “collecting a reputation as a formidable intellect.” “Often people who turn out to be the most interesting adults are the ones least acceptable to their adolescent peers.” “But it is remarkable that these two survived their courtship. Moody, socially bumbling, barricaded behind the stateliness of the very shy, Edwards was totally unlike the girl who fatefully caught his eye. She was a vibrant brunette, with erect posture and burnished manners. She was skillful at small talk — he had no talent for it at all. She was blithe — he was given to black patches of introspection.” Over four years, as Edwards had opportunity to participate in various ministries, he learned and grew. He and Sarah discovered mutual interests in books and nature (she was educated beyond the norm for the times). They married when she was seventeen and he was twenty-four (it was customary in those days for girls to be married before they were sixteen).

This book is full of details of everyday life in this period of history. This was the age of the Puritans, and modern-day conceptions of them are often wrong. What would have been involved for Sarah in housekeeping and the hospitality she was known for exercising are detailed as are also the customs of church life.

Jonathan and Sarah had eleven children, and their lineage is outlined (for example, a study made in 1900 revealed 13 college presidents, 66 physicians, 100 lawyers, 65 professors, 30 judges, and 80 holders of public office from the Edwards line). With just a handful of exceptions, their descendents were productive citizens.

Some of the most enjoyable passages in the book provide glimpses into Jonathan and Sarah’s relationship. The author writes, “The town saw Edwards’ composed dignity. Only his wife and closest friends knew what storms slammed about in the controlled exterior of him. What was driving him? [His sermons] were models of reason and rhetorical power, but they were more. Though the people in Northampton did not realize it, they were witnessing a great mind pushing out the frontiers of thought almost as drastically as other men in that day were pushing back forests.” A longtime houseguest and family friend, Samuel Hopkins, writes,

It was a happy circumstance that he could trust everything…to the care of Mrs. Edwards with entire safety and with undoubting confidence. She was a most judicious and faithful mistress of a family, habitually industrious, a sound economist, managing her household affairs with diligence and discretion. While she uniformly paid a becoming deference to her husband and treated him with entire respect, she spared no pains in conforming to his inclination and rendering everything in the family agreeable and pleasant; accounting it her greatest glory and there wherein she could best serve God and her generation, to be the means in this way of promoting his usefulness and happiness.

Jonathan “treated her as a fully mature being — as a person whose conversation entertained him, whose spirit nourished his own religious life, whose presence gave him repose.” Many days at about 4:00 in the afternoon, Jonathan would come out of his study and Sarah would “join him for a horseback ride… She often visited him in his study, and at night they had prayers together after everyone else…had gone to bed. As their days began with thanks to God for the return of the miracle of morning, so they ended with the consecration of their sleeping selves to the Lord of both their lives.”

After they began having children, Jonathan saved an hour of each day to focus just on his family, “entering freely into the concerns of his children and relaxing into cheerful and animate conversation accompanied frequently with sprightly remarks and sallies of wit and humor…then he went back to his study for more work before dinner.” Edwards also believed in educating his girls, which was unusual for the times, so he tutored them at home while the boys went to school in town. He took turns taking one child at a time with him on his travels.

Edwards pastored in Northampton, Massachusetts for about 24 years until an increasing difference of many opinions caused him to sadly resign. (Interestingly, his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” did not yield much response in his own church: it was when he preached it elsewhere that it caused such a stir.) He then ministered in Stockbridge for about six years to a small English congregation and a great number of Indian families. This at first may have seemed a strange assignment, but it offered a time of recuperation for the family from the stresses of Northampton and afforded Edwards opportunity to write some of his greatest works.

Edwards had just accepted the presidency of Princeton when he received a smallpox inoculation, which was new and controversial and proved deadly for him. Sarah died a few months later at he age of 49.

I’m not sure of the author’s spiritual state due to some of her comments and conclusions, but still the truth of what Edwards preached and what he and Sarah lived comes though clearly and reveals two hearts dependent on God and cherishing one another.

Unfortunately the book is out of print, but used copies are available from $1.78 and up through Amazon and other booksellers online.

For more about Sarah Edwards as a mother, see this post.

 

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For the 31 Days writing challenge, I am sharing 31 Days of Inspirational Biography. You can find others in the series here.

(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)