Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weekly thoughts

I thought I would try something new. In addition to the things that I post rather sporadically, I would like to start each week with something that has been on my mind—something from my Bible studies for the week or something that God has laid on my heart. These entries will typically be shorter than what I might normally include, but hopefully will just inspire you in some way as they have me. So here we go with the first one…

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness by evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
—Philippians 4:4-7

Most of us are probably familiar with that passage. I have repeatedly in my life called on verses 6 and 7 to help me through hard times. It is truly wonderful that we can present our requests to God, and He will give us peace.

I think, however, that we can cheapen the true meaning of these verses if that's all we get out of them. Remember that verse numbers were added much later—the apostle Paul didn't divide his letters into chapters, verses, and sections. J To get the bigger picture of what he is saying, we need to look at the whole passage.

Paul isn't just calling on us to go to God with our requests, he is exhorting us to focus on God with everything we have. The peace of God will guard our hearts and minds when we do all of the things he mentioned: rejoice in the Lord always, be gentle, remember that the Lord is near, do not be anxious, AND take your concerns to the Lord in prayer. It is not just about getting relief from our concerns, it's about keeping our focus where it should be—on Christ.

To look at the even bigger picture, Paul was addressing some fighting and disagreements among the believers. These women, Euodia and Syntyche, were so focused on being right that they were taking their eyes off of Christ. They weren't rejoicing together; they weren't treating each other gently; they weren't treating each other as they would if the Lord were sitting there with them. Paul knew that true peace, both within us individually and among the believers, would come only when their focus was right.

Whatever your situation, whatever is on your mind this week, whatever is on your calendar, keep your focus on Christ. Rejoice in the Lord always. Remember with each word you say that the Lord is near. Present all of your requests to God, with thanksgiving. And let the peace of God in.

Have a blessed week.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

30 things I can do to appreciate my marriage…

Here is my list! Some of these are things I will try to do once in the next 30 days, others I will try to do weekly or even daily. But each one is something small that will make my marriage a little better at the end of the day than it was at the beginning. So come on, let's see yours!

  1. Pray for him
  2. Pray with him
  3. Leave a card in his truck
  4. Take out the trash
  5. Make the bed every day
  6. Take him lunch
  7. Plan a date
  8. Plan a "date" ;-)
  9. Make snacks once a week
  10. Put a note in his briefcase
  11. Give him a little gift
  12. Go for a bike ride together
  13. Unplug the TV one night a week J
  14. Keep my "hot spot" clean (I have a little area that tends to gather clutter… He copes with it well, but I know it drives him nuts!)
  15. Tell him how much I appreciate him
  16. Give him a foot rub
  17. Give him a back rub
  18. Watch one of his "Discovery Channel" shows with him, and actually pay attention J
  19. Plan a candlelight dessert after the kids go to bed
  20. Play pool together
  21. Praise him as a husband
  22. Praise him as a father
  23. Have the house clean when he comes home from work
  24. Stay off the phone when he's home
  25. Fix a special dinner once a week
  26. Print pictures for his office (He's been asking me to do this for a while.)
  27. Write him a letter
  28. Go for a walk together
  29. One that I'm not sharing… ;-)
  30. Read the Bible together

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Appreciate, v. – 1. To be grateful or thankful for; 2. To value or regard highly; 3. To be fully conscious of, aware of; 4. To raise in value; 5. To increase in value.

Appreciate. I was struck recently by the two distinct meanings of this word. If you truly appreciate something and care for it, you can help it to appreciate.

Recently my husband and I were cleaning up after dinner, and he was in charge of the vegetable steamer. As he wiped it off, he commented that he liked to try to put things like that away in slightly better shape than they were before—just a little extra attention so that they will last longer. The idea has really stuck with me.

The concept isn't really new. When I was working, the company called it "Continuous Improvement." In our increasingly "green" society, it's called being environmentally responsible. We are often encouraged to make our world a little cleaner than it was when we got here so that it will last for future generations. Still, the thought of applying it to my everyday life really hit home. How effective would it be to teach my children to leave things even better than they were? Whether we're cleaning their rooms at home, picking up our toys at a friend's house, or getting ready to leave church, going the extra mile teaches them responsibility and appreciation for the things and people around them.

A few nights later, my husband and I had collapsed on the couch after putting the kids to bed, and we started talking about relationships—and more specifically, our marriage relationship. It's easy to fall into a rut in marriage, to just let things move along with the flow of life. We were having one of those nights—or weeks or months, maybe—where we just co-existed, each doing our own thing and staying out of each other's way. After seven years of marriage (I know, it's not a ton, but it's enough!), it can be easy to just get used to each other and stop trying as hard.

And somewhere in the midst of our conversation, that vegetable steamer came up again—the idea of constantly working to leave things better than they were. What a concept! Every married couple knows that marriage takes work, but so often we work just to keep it going. But this idea—to work every day to make it even better—what a revolution!

For the rest of the evening I turned this idea over and over in my head, thinking of practical ways to put it to use in our marriage and in our family. I don't just want to exist with my husband and children, I want to appreciate them, so that our relationships can increase in value. Finally, I decided that a practical exercise was in order: I would make a list of 30 things I could do to improve the quality of my marriage over the next 30 days (one each day). The ideas didn't need to be anything major—no vow renewal ceremonies or anything like that! J But maybe one day I would put a card in Jon's truck so that he saw it before he left for work. Or maybe I could take the trash out before he got home, so that it would be one less thing on his plate for the day.

I will post my own list soon. Honestly, this all just happened, so my list is still a work in progress. J But I can't wait to share it with you. And I hope that you will take this as a challenge and share your own lists with me! It doesn't have to be about marriage—what can you do over the next week or two weeks or 30 days to improve your relationship with your children or your parents or your best friend? Or even more practically speaking, just to improve your home, so that your life is a little less stressful? Please take a few minutes to make your own list (Hey, even making the list counts as one thing you can do!) and share them with me. I can't wait to hear from you.