Tag Archive: marriage


What’s That Sound?

imagesFootball games are so much fun!  The people, the snacks, the sounds and the game.

After attending several home football games this fall I’ve become familiar with the same sounds that the band plays at each game.  At the last game, though, I heard different sounds.  And I wondered, “What’s that sound?”  I looked around the stadium.  And then I knew.  A different band was playing.  The visiting team had brought their band with them and they were playing very loudly on the other side of the field.  So loudly, in fact, that it was difficult to hear those familiar tunes from our own home team band.  A fan near me shouted out to that visiting band, “Are you trying to play louder than our band?!”  I quietly agreed with him.  I had thought the same thing, but I’m not one for shouting.  I struggled to listen to our home band play as I tried not to hear that other band.  After all, the other band was playing music that I didn’t know and this was our field.  Our own band should be heard loud and clear.

Then I thought about how we so often hear things that contradict what we know so well.  Those sounds can be so loud.  And I’m sure people mean well, just like that visiting band.  But meaning well and being loud doesn’t make something right or true.  Things that contradict the Bible or just what is true, like people’s own idea of how the world came to be or people’s own definition of marriage and so many other ideas today, are just sounds.  We hear a lot of sounds out there so it’s important to know what is true and to spend time reading the Bible so that it will be familiar to us, like the band’s music at a home football game.

So, next time I’m hoping that the visiting team doesn’t bring their band with them.  Sorry visiting team.  I just want to hear those familiar sounds of my hometown team’s band.

 

 

shoesI’m excited about the opportunity to speak at a dinner for writers soon.  In preparation of that I was asked a question about a post on my blog.  You know the post, or posts.  The subject that keeps coming up again and again – my brown shoes.

Since I have posted different times about my brown shoes I was asked where I was going with those shoes.  It made me laugh at first because I have been going to many places with those shoes – to the grocery store, to the airport, to different places to teach, to restaurants for lunch with friends and even to the ladies’ Bible study that I’ve been leading in my home.  I know that going to literal places is not what they meant by that question of where am I going, but in a way it is.  And it’s a good question.

You remember the shoes.  Those brown, leather and oh-so-comfortable shoes that I can just slide my feet right into as I walk out the door.  My favorite shoes.  And you remember that when my first pair of those favorite brown shoes looked worn I went to the store and was able to replace them with a new pair of the same shoes.  Oh, that was a happy day!  But over time that second pair of brown shoes began to look just like my first pair and, oh, that was a sad day when I realized that they were worn out, too.  But then I discovered brown shoe polish.  I polished my shoes and they looked like new again.  I can’t even begin to explain to you the excitement in my heart over my newly polished shoes.  I could wear them everywhere without being ashamed of how worn my favorite comfy shoes looked.  As I wore my shoes, I could polish them over and over again to keep them looking nice.  But that much work only lasts for so long.

So what did I do?  I kept one pair nicely polished and stored away in its box for times when I needed to wear shoes that looked fresh, clean and perfectly polished.  And the rest of the time I just walked right out of the house wearing my favorite brown leather comfy, well-worn shoes.  As I think about that now I realize that while maybe we don’t all have favorite shoes or even two pairs of the same favorite shoes so we can keep one pair in a box for special times, we do wear different faces depending on where we are going.  Sometimes we can just be ourselves in our comfy well-worn shoes like when we shop at our local grocery store or meet friends for lunch, but at other times we don’t let others know we have those well-worn shoes and we put on our nice shoes, as if we have everything all together.

Over the last few months I have been leading a ladies’ Bible study in my home about marriage, which has been a lot of fun.  I so enjoy spending time with other ladies who love God and also their husbands!  As I shared some of my own mistakes from my early years of marriage we laughed and learned together.  It was like I put on my well-worn shoes and let everyone see them.  Well, actually, most of the days I’m pretty sure that I was wearing my actual well-worn shoes.  But what happened was that the other ladies saw that I don’t always have it all together.  And that it’s okay to learn and grow each day.  And while I wore those worn-out shoes something happened.  The ladies quickly felt comfortable to share about their own struggles and victories as the room became a safe place to put on our well-worn shoes together and just be real.  Because of that we were able to surround each other with prayer and support each other.  Don’t you love wearing your well-worn shoes with good friends?  The whole series was such a special Bible study time together.  Because I wore my favorite brown leather worn-out shoes.

There are times to put on my nicely polished shoes, though.  Like when I go out with my husband or speak somewhere.  I wore them recently to a fundraising banquet for a ministry that I volunteer with.  It is important to look our best!  However, sometimes we choose to look our best, like maybe on Sunday mornings, when really we just need to put on our worn-out shoes, be real and allow someone to see that we don’t have it all together.

First Peter 5:5 says, “…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble,'” (NIV).

I guess I clothed myself with humility as I put on my worn-out shoes and shared with my Bible study friends.  It has been so neat to watch God work in our lives as we have shared with each other.  So I guess for now that is where I’m going with those shoes, which is wherever God leads me, whether it’s in a time to wear my nicely polished shoes or in a time to wear my worn-out shoes.

So here’s my question for you today:  What shoes will you wear?

Love Is…

heartinhands“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Everyone!

Just call me “helper.”

husbandandwifedrawingA friend of mine and I recently started a ladies’ Bible study about marriage.  One of the first things that we are going to talk about is our role as women in marriage.  I’m so excited about sharing something that I have learned about Genesis 2:18, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him,'” (NASB).

Right in the very beginning of the Bible we learn that Eve was created to be a helper for Adam.  Yep, a helper.  Does that sound like a good role to you?

You might be thinking of your little child helping you sweep the floor or helping you fold towels and you call that precious little one “Mommy’s little helper” and you thank them, but all the time you’re thinking about how you could have swept the floor or folded the towels in half the time that you did with your helper.  It’s no wonder that the word helper doesn’t seem so significant these days.  Even in my children’s ministry I am careful to call those on my team “my team” and not “my helpers” because the word helper sounds so unimportant and I want my team to know that they are very important.  In fact, there is no way that I could do the things that I do without them.

So what does the word helper mean anyway?  Webster defines help as “to make things easier or better for; aid; assist.”  The word helper didn’t get a written definition, except for the part of speech.  It is a noun.  But as I was looking for that word, I saw the word helpmeet, which some versions of Genesis 2:18 use, and this word means “helpmate,” which means “a helpful companion.

So now we know how we define helper, but how does God define the word?  Can one who “makes things easier or better for” or is a “helpful companion” really be important?

The Hebrew word used for helper in Genesis 2:18 is actually quite a significant word.  You see, most of the times that this same word is used in the Old Testament, it refers to God.  This is one of my favorite verses, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth,” (Psalm 121:1-2).  (Sorry about the “whence,” but I’m using my NASB version today.)  Here’s another good verse, “You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord, He is their help and their shield,” (Psalm 115:11).  We read in these verses and many others that God is our helper and I am very thankful for that.  I know you are, too.  So right away we see that our role as a wife as being a helper for our husband is very important.  I mean, we all want God to be our helper, right?  And we definitely need Him to be.  God is not insignificant in our lives.  He is very essential and important.  Our husbands need us to be their helper, too.  And it’s a very important role.

But that’s not all there is about this Hebrew word.  This same word is also used in a military way.  Before Moses died we read this Hebrew word three times in Deuteronomy 33 as he is blessing the people of Israel and encouraging them as they are about to go to the Promised Land.  Look at these verses.  “And this regarding Judah; so he said, ‘Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him to his people.  With his hands he contended for them; and mayest Thou be a help against his adversaries.'” (verse 7), “There is none like the God of Jeshurun.  Who rides the heavens to your help, and through the skies in His majesty.” (verse 26), and “Blessed are you, O Israel; who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, who is the shield of your help.  And the sword of your majesty!  So your enemies shall cringe before you, and you shall tread upon their high places.” (verse 29).  Moses uses this same Hebrew word for help knowing that the Israelites are about to go over to Jericho and face battles.  As we read these verses we learn that our role of helper becomes even more significant.

Being a helper has way more meaning than we might think when we simply read that passage in Genesis 2:18 and start to feel rather unimportant.  When you go back to Genesis 2 and read in verses 21-22 about how God took the rib out of Adam’s side to create Eve, we understand even more.  You see, God took a rib out of Adam’s side.  Not his head.  Not his foot.  Eve was not created to be superior to Adam and she was not created to be inferior to Adam.  She was created from Adam’s side.  They were equals.  Adam was made first so he was to be the leader and Eve was to be the follower, but they were to be equals.

Did you know that being a helper could be so important?  Now we know that the wife’s role as a helper is very significant.  In fact, I can’t think of a higher calling for us as wives.  We are to be our husband’s companions.  We are to stand together as one and face the battles of life together, with God.  Can you imagine what our world – or even just our own families – would be like today if we did stand together as one – as best friends – as equals, but allowing our husbands to lead – as we help them – as we face all those battles of life?

Here’s another thing that I like about the way that God made Eve to be Adam’s helper.  God knew that it was not good for Adam to be alone.  If you’re a teacher, then you know that guiding your students to discover what you want them to learn is a very effective way of teaching them.  Being the amazing teacher that He is, God brings the animals to Adam and has Adam name them.  Can you imagine Adam naming all those animals?  Rooster and hen.  Bull and cow.  Buck and doe.  Lion and lioness.  You get the picture.  Finally Adam is done and he looks around and discovers that there is no one for him.  He is alone.  So God steps in and creates exactly what Adam needs.  Eve.  His helper.

And you are exactly what your husband needs.  His helper.  And just like my ministry team and I can do things together – with God – that I could never do alone, you and your husband, together with God, will be able to stand together and do things that you could never do alone.

Do you think your husband feels alone today?  Are you being his companion?  Are you allowing him to be the leader in your home?  How do you feel about your role as your husband’s helper?  How can you make things easier or better for your husband today?  Will you stand as one with your husband as equals and best friends as you face the battles of life together with the God who made you?

I want to be who God created me to be  in my marriage so I feel very important when I say – just call me “helper.”

Celebrating Marriage

IMG_0085My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in May!  As I think about being married to him over the last 25 years, I like this Bible verse, “…I found the one my heart loves…,” (Song of Songs 3:4 NIV).

I feel like we have been celebrating marriage a lot around here over the last year.  My daughter and her husband got married last summer and since that time two of my cousins and one of my nieces have gotten married.  And one of my nephews will be married very soon.

All of that means that I have been having fun giving bridal showers over the last year and sharing about marriage, which I have shared some of here on my blog.  If you missed them, here are the links to three of the posts:

https://lorischulz.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/communication-mishap/

https://lorischulz.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/seeing-spots/

https://lorischulz.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/making-a-marvelous-marriage-now-and-later/

But not only are we celebrating marriages around here, we’re also celebrating wedding anniversaries.  My daughter and her husband celebrated their first anniversary in June, my husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in May, and my parents will celebrate their 50th anniversary very soon.  So in honor of celebrating marriage, let’s have some fun!

Maybe you’ve only been married for a short time.  You could share about how you met or what it was that you really liked about your spouse before you were married.  Or maybe you’ve been married for a while like my husband and me.  You could share a fun story about your marriage.  Or maybe you have been married for a long time like my parents.  You could share some wisdom with us.

First I’ll share some short thoughts for each one of those and then it will be YOUR turn!

cartoongirlandboy

It’s going to seem silly when you read this, but here is how my husband and I met and what I liked about him.

I remember when I first saw my husband.  We were at a family camp with our church.  At the beginning of the camp, they had the families that had not previously attended this camp go up to the stage at the front.  Then they invited the other families to choose a new family and invite them to have dinner with them to make them feel welcome.  That was when I saw him.  He was on the stage with his family and he was very cute.  I leaned over to my dad and told him that that tall boy with the blonde hair was really cute and asked my dad to choose that family to have dinner with.  My dad tried, but another family got the dinner.  However, my parents invited them to have dinner with us anyway.  That was when I met my future husband.  (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)  We were in high school then and we’ve been together ever since.  And he still is very cute!  Yep, that’s what I liked about him at first.  But now I know him better and he is a man that I respect so much.  I’m very glad to be his wife.

So, how did you meet your spouse?  What was it that drew you to him or her?

cartoonfamily

Now I’ll share a story about marriage.  I don’t know why this one came to mind – we have so many stories – but here it is.

One day a few years ago while we were eating dinner, my daughter observed something and shared it out loud.  She was a teenager at the time and we have two boys also.  I have no idea what the conversation was, but I remember what she said.  She noticed my husband and me discussing something, probably about something one of the kids wanted to do, I don’t really know, but she said, “You two talk to each other with your eyes.”  She was right.  We couldn’t discuss out loud whatever we wanted to say at the time, but that didn’t keep us from “talking” with each other!

I’d love to hear your stories about being married!

cartoonbrideandgroomblack

Now it’s time for some marriage wisdom.  I enjoy reading books about marriage and learning more every day.  It’s great to have a good marriage!  One bit of wisdom that I think is really good for everyone is remembering to forgive.  My husband and I attended the FamilyLife “Love Like You Mean It Marriage Cruise” a few years ago.  It was so much fun and we can’t wait to have the opportunity to go again sometime.  On the cruise we listened to several speakers and I sat there thinking that I wished someone had told us those things 20 years ago because we had to learn them all on our own.  Kirk Cameron and his wife, Chelsea, were two of the speakers.  Chelsea spoke about forgiveness.  She said that when we don’t forgive, we keep that person in that place of where they did something wrong.  They don’t want to be kept there.  They want to be forgiven and change and be the person that they really want to be.  We need to forgive them so that we both can move on.  I have a wonderful husband, but we all need forgiveness.  I’m glad that my husband is quick to forgive me!  After that cruise we were able to attend one of FamilyLife’s “Weekend to Remember” Couple’s Getaways.  What a fun time!  My other bit of wisdom is for everyone to attend that weekend.  The weekend getaways are held in many cities and you can even attend as an engaged couple.  My husband and I sent our daughter and son-in-law before they were married and they said that they were given a lot of great information to help make their marriage strong.

So, what is your bit of marriage wisdom?

I’m looking forward to reading your stories as we celebrate marriage!

Building Castles

IMG_4316

In light of the legal decisions that were made regarding marriage this week, I decided to write a little story today.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The Building Club was awesome!  Bobby had been a member of the club for two years.  He and the other boys and girls had carefully followed the instruction books to many amazing miniature plastic works of art.  They’d built expansive villages, full stadiums and detailed boats and cars, among many other things.  The group had always worked well together and enjoyed playing with their working, well-crafted creations.

But today was a new day.  Bobby had decided to build his own creation.  This time the group was beginning work on a castle.  As the group carefully opened the box, sorted the bags of tiny plastic pieces and began reading from the instruction book, Bobby had his own idea.  I can make a castle my own way.  Who needs that instruction book?  I can make a castle just the same without that, maybe even better!  And that is what Bobby set off to do. 

The other children hated to see Bobby go away to build a castle.  They enjoyed building with him, but what could they do?  Every one of them knew that they needed the instruction book in order to build the castle properly.  They saw the picture of the castle on the box cover and wanted to be sure to make it right, just the way it was intended to be.  So they had to let Bobby go, but they knew they would miss him as they worked.

As Bobby left he was very sure of himself.  He didn’t need those boys and girls in the Building Club to tell him the right way to build a castle.  No.  He could make a castle his own way.  And he would.  He walked to the store and used his own money to buy his own box.  Then he went home to his bedroom and spread out the individual bags of small plastic pieces – gray, red, black, silver – and began building.  He carefully put together piece after piece.  Bobby was proud of himself as he looked at what he had created so far.  See, I don’t need to follow the instruction book.  I can build a perfectly fine castle my own way.  I’ll show those kids in that club who’s right and who’s wrong.  And Bobby kept building.  And building.

After a while the kids in the club came to visit Bobby.  “Bobby, we missed you today.  Do you want to see our castle?  It’s so amazing!  You’ve got to see it!”  Bobby did not want to see their castle.  He wanted to keep working on his.  In fact, he liked the way that his castle looked so much that he thought that they should change their castle to be like his.  So he showed them his creation.  When the boys and girls in the club saw his castle, they didn’t think that their castle should be just like his.  They could see that Bobby’s castle had some problems and they tried to show Bobby, but he didn’t want to listen.  He decided that they were being mean and told them to go away so that he could finish building his castle.  His way.

Finally, Bobby finished his castle.  He was so happy!  He took the knights and the horses and began playing, but he soon learned that his castle did have problems.  The drawbridge wouldn’t open.  The secret door would not close.  And the silver bricks in the staircase kept falling out.  Ugh.  Bobby tried to fix them, but he didn’t know how.  Maybe my friends were right, he thought.  I guess I should have followed the instruction book.  And I shouldn’t have expected the club to change their castle.  My friends really were trying to help me.  They’re not mean.  They were being kind to me.  Well, I guess it’s time to start over, but this time I’ll follow the instruction book and make the castle the way it was intended to be.  I wonder if my friends will still let me build with them in the club? 

Bobby soon found out that they did.

Trees and Truth

treeHave you seen the movie, “The Lorax?”  I just watched it the other day.  If you’ve seen it, then you’ll remember the town of Thneadville that was made of plastic.  And you’ll remember how the people liked their plastic trees that were filled with air.  And that they had forgotten about real trees.  Ah, yes.  The real trees.

You see, there was once a beautiful land full of trees.  Then a well-meaning young man allowed people to cut down a few trees, but the people got a bit carried away.  You see, after a while they realized that all of the trees were cut down.  The Lorax tried to stop the people from cutting down the trees, but the people didn’t listen.  They did what they wanted to do.  And what was left wasn’t very pretty.  Just an expanse of land filled with tree stumps and, after everyone else left, one lonely young man.

Then we see Thneadville.  This town had no real trees.  The trees in this town were made of plastic and filled with air.  A man in that town had convinced everyone there that they didn’t want real trees, that the plastic trees were so much better.  This man knew that real trees were good for the people, but he didn’t care about the people.  He was getting rich by selling air to the people for their plastic trees.  And the people were enjoying the plastic trees, until they realized that real trees were actually good and better for them than plastic trees.  Who knew?

Well, that air salesman knew.  And he was very good at deceiving the people.

So here’s my thought.  What if we are being deceived?  What if someone wants us to cut down all of our “trees?”  To stop believing that God knows and wants what is best for us?  Whether we believe in God or not, what if we’re cutting down the trees of truth?

Is someone trying to sell us “air” today?  Not because it’s particularly good for us, but to keep us away from wanting what is good for us -the real trees, or real truth?  Are we believing lies about things that seem fine and good – like plastic trees – when really they are not good at all because we were meant to have real trees?

Our culture today tells our young people that purity isn’t that big of a deal.  That they should be able to do whatever they feel seems right at the time or to look at whatever they want and it won’t matter.  That seems like a plastic tree – something that sounds good, but isn’t really true.  After all, now we have many depressed teens and lots of diseases.  Maybe we shouldn’t have cut down that tree of truth about purity.  What if it really is the best thing for us after all?  God has made it very clear in His Word that purity is important.  Not to spoil anyone’s fun, but because it is good for us.  I think our young people are much smarter and more capable than our culture seems to believe today.

And what about marriage?  In the beginning God created a man and a woman and married them and told them to be fruitful and multiply.  Only one man and one woman together can do that.  Marriage requires one husband and one wife.  Are we filling up another plastic tree with air when we choose to redefine marriage?  How do you redefine a word anyway?  You can’t change what something is just because someone doesn’t happen to like it.  Words have meaning.  And so does marriage.  Or do we want to cut down another real tree and replace it with a plastic one that looks nice, but really is not what is best for us?  I have volunteered with kids for years and I have seen that children do best when they are raised in a home with a mom and a dad.

What about the godly heritage of our country?  Here in America many of our founding fathers believed in God and formed our government on biblical principles.  Look at what George Washington said on September 19, 1796:  “We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself has ordained.”  Today our nation is disregarding many of the “eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself has ordained” and I feel like we’ve been cutting down a lot of trees.

As in the movie, the people who cut down the trees meant no harm.  They were not evil people with ill-intent.  They were good people who truly thought they were doing something good.  Today I believe we are in that same situation.  Many well-meaning people are doing what they think is right.  But is it right to go against God?  Does He not know what is best for those He has created?  Are we unknowingly buying air that we don’t need just to fill up our plastic trees that we think will make us happy while what we really need is real trees, or real truth that never changes?

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,” (John 10:10 NIV).  Will we continue to allow our “trees” to be stolen, killed and destroyed?  That young man in the movie that thought he was doing what was right and good was left all alone with tree stumps as far as the eye could see.  Will we believe a lie and just do what we want as he did and end up with something we didn’t expect or want or will we believe truth and have life to the full?

At the end of the movie the people learned about real trees and planted the last tree seed – and soon many trees grew.  What a beautiful sight the real trees were!  True trees standing for all to see and enjoy.  I want to see that, too.  Trees of truth so that we may have life to the full.  That will be beautiful!

Communication Mishap

IZI0012031Have you ever told someone something and then later found out that they completely misunderstood you?  Have you had a communication mishap?

I know I’ve shared my apples story here before, but I was thinking about that communication mishap again as I prepared for a bridal shower that I was giving.  You see, my family has a tradition that we started years ago on Saturday mornings.  Over the years we have had busy seasons and days when it didn’t work, but usually on Saturday mornings we have time to make breakfast and eat together.  Since we have only one child at home now, he usually gets to choose what we make.

Well, the other day I asked him what he wanted for breakfast and I heard him say “apples.”  I thought that was kind-of odd because he usually asks for pancakes or waffles, but I figured he just wanted apples that morning.  And I have to admit, I was disappointed because I was hoping for waffles.  But I cut up an apple and set it on the table in front of him.  Then my husband came in and asked him why he had an apple and he said, “I don’t know.”  So I said, “You asked for apples.”  And he said, “No, I asked for waffles.”  Then I said, “Oh, I thought you said ‘apples.’”  So then we all laughed, ate some apple slices and I started making waffles for breakfast.  And everything was fine.  In fact, since then they have been calling our Saturday morning waffles “apples.”

But what if I hadn’t found out that my son had really said waffles?  He would have eaten the apple and gone on with his day probably sad that I gave him apples and confused because he knew what he had said and he expected me to hear what he had said.  And I would have been disappointed because I had wanted to have waffles for breakfast.  Instead of our quickly resolved communication mishap, we could have had a very confused boy and a disappointed mom.

The problem with that kind of communication mishap is that it also happens in marriage.  We may not say waffles and apples, but we do say that we love each other.  The other day I was reading in Philippians and came across this verse about love.  It is Philippians 1:9, “And this is my prayer:  that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (NIV).  Paul was writing this to the believers in Philippi, but it is good for all believers, and especially married couples.  We want our love for each other to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.  But how do we do that?

One way is to learn how to communicate with each other in ways that we each understand so that when we say “waffles” – or “I love you,” our spouse will hear “waffles” – or “I love you,” not something else like “apples.”  Gary Chapman explains this in his book, “The Five Love Languages.”  He states that there are five love languages and that we tend to speak our own love language.  The problem with that is that our spouse may not speak our love language.  They may speak one of the other love languages.  So when we speak our love language to our spouse, if that’s not their love language, they don’t hear “I love you,” they hear something else like “apples.”  But they want to hear “I love you” because apples don’t really mean much.  So it’s important to know what our own love language is and also to find out what our spouse’s love language is.  Here is the list of the five love languages that Chapman writes about:  Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch.

If Words of Affirmation is your spouse’s love language, then they like to hear words of praise and appreciation so tell them that you appreciate specific things that they do.  If Acts of Service is their love language, then your actions will mean more than your words to them so do things that help them out, like refilling their glass of Mountain Dew.  If Receiving Gifts is important to your spouse, then be sure to remember their birthday, Christmas, your anniversary and also some “no occasion” days.  Now don’t go overboard on your gifts.  They will probably be very happy with some of those 99-cent cards from the grocery store.  Quality Time may be your spouse’s love language.  If it is, then take time to give them your undivided attention.  Turn off the TV, put down the newspaper and spend some time talking and interacting with each other.  And the last one, Physical Touch.  If that’s their love language, then reach out and touch them.  They will enjoy holding hands with you.

So just like Paul prayed for the Philippian believers that their love would abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, our marriages also can grow as we learn to speak love to our spouse in the ways that they hear love.  Then when we say or do things that say “I love you” they will hear “I love you” and not “apples.”  Because we don’t want to be confused or disappointed through communication mishaps.

**  Here is the link to my original apples and waffles story:  lorischulz.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/wanting-waffles-and-getting-apples/

Seeing Spots?

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Have you been seeing spots lately?  You know, spots.  Those things that your spouse has done wrong or that just annoy you and you keep thinking about.  Guess what?  The Bible has something to say about that.

I like how God starts out the Bible with telling us how He created the whole world.  In Genesis chapter one we read on the first day that God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light and we go on and read what He made on that first day.  Then at the end of that day God said, “It is good.”  Then we can continue reading and see what He made on the second day and at the end of that day God said, “It is good.”  And it continues on through the third day, the fourth day and the fifth day.  But on the sixth day it is different.  We read about what God made and learn that God made people.  He made Adam and Eve.  Then He married them.  And at the end of that day God said, “It is very good.”  So we know that marriage was God’s idea and He planned for it to be very good.

But sometimes we can feel like our marriage is not “very good.”  That’s because when we get married, we marry a human being.  A person.  And the thing about people is that we make mistakes, we say things that hurt other people’s feelings, we annoy each other and we just mess up.  The problem is when we focus on those things that our spouse has done wrong, that mistake that they made or that misunderstanding that we had and we forget about all the good things about them.

So what do we do?  How do we stop seeing spots?

It’s always a good idea to look to God, especially for wisdom on things that He created – like marriage.  First Corinthians 13 has become known as “the love chapter” because it’s about love.  God’s love.  That’s a great place to go to find out how God loves and also how to love other people.  It says things like “love is patient,” “love is kind,” “love always protects,” and this, “Love does not keep a record of wrongs.”  Now that is some good wisdom for when we start to focus on that wrong thing.  When all we see is that spot.  We need to remember to forgive and to think about all the good things about our spouse.  I know there are a lot of good things to think about!

I like an illustration that I heard a while ago on FamilyLife.  What if we got together and I showed up wearing a shirt with a spot on it.  A small stain.  What would you be thinking of me?  You’d probably be thinking something like, “Oh, what a slob!” or “Why didn’t she put on a clean shirt?  She must not care about me.”  You would be focusing on that small stain – that spot.  But imagine that shirt again.  There is only a small stain on it.  So really most of the shirt is great.  And that is what we should be focusing on – the 99% of the shirt that is really very nice.  Then we can say, “Oh, what a great person!” and “They really have been kind to me.  I know they care about me.”

And then we will stop seeing spots and we will be able to say about our marriage, “It is very good.”  Just the way God planned it.

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You better watch out.  You better not cry.  You better not pout.  I’m tellin’ you why.  Santa Claus is coming to town.

He’s makin’ a list.  And checkin’ it twice.  Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice.  Santa Claus is coming to town.

You know, I’ve sung that song so many times, but today the words made me laugh.

Santa’s making a list and checking it twice to see who’s naughty and nice.  Maybe that’s why Mrs. Claus never rides in the sleigh with Santa as he delivers all those toys.  Because he’s keeping long accounts of wrongs.  Mrs. Claus probably doesn’t want to spend Christmas Eve listening to Santa remind her of the day that she burned his favorite cookies or talk about the spot on their carpet that’s there because she forgot to let the reindeer out.  I don’t know.  I’m just sayin’.

Maybe Santa should keep shorter accounts.  Maybe he should forgive.  You know, like God.

God knows all of the things that we’ve done wrong, but He loves us anyway.  He doesn’t give us coal in our stocking.  Nope.  He gave us the best gift ever – Jesus.  God saw how messed up we were and He sent His only Son to come be born here on the earth and live like us, only Jesus never sinned.  Then Jesus died on the cross for all those things that we have done wrong.  And it didn’t end there.  Three days later Jesus came back to life again!  All of that even though we should have been on His “naughty list.”

When we choose to believe in Jesus, He doesn’t put our name on a naughty or nice list that can change at any moment.  No, He puts our name in His Book of Life.  And we can know Him today and know for sure that we will be with Him in heaven someday.  What an amazing gift!  AND He sends all those wrong things that we did way down to the bottom of the ocean, or as far as the east is from the west.

Santa is fun and all, but I choose to celebrate Jesus.