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28 Jan

10 Ways to Appreciate Your Spouse

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When was the last time you said that you appreciate your spouse?

I don’t mean things like saying “I love you.” You may be doing that all day, every day, or you may wait for special occasions to utter the L word. ery, in writing for Bustle.com, says it depends. “I looked around into how often couples say the L word, and instead of being all over the map, there were definitely two major camps— people who say it all the time and people who hardly say it all. Neither is wrong, neither is right. But for the people that say it, they really, really say it.” However, saying “I love you” doesn’t necessarily mean “I appreciate you.”

Jeremy Nicholson, a psychologist who writes for Psychology Today, reveals that “Saying ‘I love you’ on a regular basis is not always indicative of relationship status. A better indicator is how the partners actually treat and care for each other. Without loving behaviors backing it up, saying ‘I love you’ is just an empty expression.” And that’s where appreciation comes in.

A study reported in Scientific American’s December 2009 article, “The Happy Couple: Secrets to a Long Marriage,” indicates that gratitude acts like a booster for romantic relationships, and the more often appreciation is expressed, the less likely the couple is apt to break up.

Okay, so I missed National Spouse Appreciation Day.

But how about deciding to make some changes that will let your partner know that not only do you love him (or her), but you appreciate her (or him), too? Here are 10 easy ways to make appreciation something you’ll do because you notice the gift you have in your spouse.

1. Thank your spouse.

Yes, maybe it’s their job to help with household chores. But don’t take their work for granted just because you also do household chores. Appreciate your spouse because they care enough to help you.

2. Express your thanks creatively.

When you tell your spouse “thank you,” after awhile it can lose its meaning. Think of more creative ways to say it, like: “I appreciate it when you…”, “I’m grateful for…”, “It means a lot to me when you…”, etc.

3. Even negative circumstances have positive aspects

When he calls and says, “Honey, I have to work late tonight” do you complain? Show your spouse some appreciation for the positive—he called! And then thank him for his hard work, too.

4. Say thank you for the small things, too

Your spouse doesn’t have to make your life easier by helping you around the house. It’s a choice (or should be). Saying thank you for the things he or she does all the time lets your spouse know that you notice even the small things.

5. Public praise is a great way to appreciate your spouse

Perhaps you say thank you at home, but neglect to make your appreciation known in public. (Or maybe you thank in public but ignore the effort at home!) Saying publicly that you are grateful to your spouse can have a huge impact on your relationship, both publicly and privately.

6. The big things need praise, too

When was the last time you thanked your spouse for being a great dad or mom? Or because they work for an awful boss and still come home in a great mood?

7. Appreciate your spouse for contributing to your success

Whether it’s work, education, parenting, spiritual growth, or work in the community, your husband or wife has impacted your success. Be sure to tell them that achieving your goals is partly their success, too.

8. Say thank you with a gift

Extravagance isn’t necessary. It really is the thought that counts, so flowers or a box of chocolates is a time-honored way to thank your spouse. A dinner date or a gift card to her favorite craft store work, too.

9. Jump the gun when they need help

Don’t wait for your spouse to ask you to do something for him or her. Anticipate the need and offer before they mention it. She could use some time away from the kids, and he could use a nap. Offer to let them do the things that they leave unsaid.

10. Date your spouse

Your spouse needs to know that not only do you love them, but you like them, too. Ask him or her out on a date, even if life seems too busy. Make dating your spouse a priority, and have a real conversation when you go out. Enjoy both dinner and discussion.

Do you have any special way to appreciate your spouse? Share them in the comments!

 

24 Jan

Backhanded Compliments — 5 Ways To Respond

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What do you do?

When someone insults you, but disguises it as a compliment, how do you respond? Those kinds of comments are what’s known as backhanded compliments, and it’s not usually intentional (but often it is).

Today is National Compliment Day, so it’s the perfect time to discuss what to do with backhanded compliments. (Here’s how to respond to legitimate compliments without feeling gawky.)

Some people are just socially awkward. They don’t mean to sound snarky; they simply don’t know how to deliver a compliment. Chances are, they don’t know how to receive one, either. Yet at other times, the spiteful comment is entirely intentional. That person may act innocent, but their rudeness still hurts.

“You are really smart for such a pretty woman.”

“You got the job?! Congratulations! I’m so surprised!”

“You look beautiful today.”

“I wish I was as cool with clutter as you are.”

You could write your own list of these kinds of commendations, couldn’t you? We’ve all heard them; in fact, we’ve all said them.

And they sting.

So, how do you respond to backhanded compliments?

There are five tried-and-true methods for handling snarky comments. Choose your weapon!

1. Just ignore it.

Give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they meant no harm. Or maybe they did. Not responding doesn’t mean you’re giving up your power. It’s actually more powerful, because your silence is saying, “Your insult means so little to me that I won’t even acknowledge it.”

Answering the insult may come across as defending yourself, as though you actually think there is some validity to their comment.

Usually when people offer up insults—whether disguised or not—they are looking for attention. Don’t let them push your buttons.

2. Be gracious.

Saying “thank you” takes the wind right out of their sails. Getting into a debate is probably not going to advance your cause anyway. Again, assuming the best is best. And a positive attitude is contagious.

3. Acknowledge the positive.

Responding to an insult with another insult is not productive. Show your own class by responding to the positive part of the backhanded compliment with kindness. Consider it your good deed for the day.

4. Meet it head-on.

Especially when you don’t think any harm was meant, say, “Thank you for the compliment, but saying that today I look beautiful implies you don’t think I usually am. Is that what you meant to say?” Keep your tone non-combative, and gently let her know that you recognize passive-aggressive behavior and that it won’t work with you.

5. Keep your sense of humor.

A backhanded compliment says more about the person speaking than it does about you. Jealousy, insecurity, or anger can come out in a hurtful manner, but that doesn’t mean you have to be hurt. Simply decide not to be offended. How you respond to hurtful words is a choice. Don’t lower yourself by reacting in a knee-jerk fashion. Laugh it off.

Something I drilled into my kids applies here. When someone had done or said something hurtful to them, I always reminded them to remember how it felt and be sure not to repeat their offense.

How do you respond to backhanded compliments? Tell me in the comments.

 

 

 

09 Jan

Choosing My Guiding Word for 2017—Bless

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I’VE COME ACROSS the idea of a guiding word several times in reading my favorite blogs recently. Seems like everyone is looking to simplify their New Year’s Resolutions and find a word that will guide them through the muddle of life in 2017.

My word came to me when I wasn’t even thinking about it. I just suddenly knew the word. But if you are looking for a guiding word and nothing is standing out, take a look at “How to Choose One Word To Define & Guide Your Year Ahead” on one of my favorite blogs, “A Pair and A Spare.”

Bless is my word. It can overarch my goals for the year quite nicely when used to receive blessings as well as to give blessings.

But what does bless actually entail? First, let’s define it.

Bless
verb (used with object), blessed or blest, blessing.
1. to consecrate or sanctify by a religious rite; make or pronounce holy.

2. to request of God the bestowal of divine favor on:

Bless this house.

3. to bestow good of any kind upon:

a nation blessed with peace.

4. to extol as holy; glorify:

Bless the name of the Lord.

5. to protect or guard from evil (usually used as an interjection):

Bless you! Bless your innocent little heart!

6. to condemn or curse:

I’ll be blessed if I can see your reasoning. Bless me if it isn’t my old friend!

7. to make the sign of the cross over or upon:

The Pope blessed the multitude.
My use of the word is contained in the third definition, meaning to bestow good of any kind upon. This year, I’m desiring to bless the people God has so graciously put in my life, and to extend myself for the good of others, even those I don’t know. So, giving of my time and my treasure to the people who are in need, and to provide good things for those I love.
Jesus, when speaking of what is commonly called the Beatitudes, said the following.

Matthew 5:3-12King James Version (KJV)

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

My goals for this year mean that I want to become like those Jesus was speaking about: poor in spirit, comforted in mourning, meek, merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker, and even persecuted for His sake.

If I were to choose a guiding word that I think is prophetic for America for the coming year, I would probably say chaotic. I’m not a doomsayer, and I’m not predicting doom. But I do think that our political climate has become toxic, and that it will sift down through every facet of our lives.

How can it not?

So for Christians, I think we have been called to be light and salt in uncertain times, showing the way by our actions and love, and preserving our land through our prayers.

Will you join me in blessing America this year?

01 Jan

Dear John…Breaking Up With Writer’s Block

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I’ve decided to write a “Dear John” letter to Writer’s Block.

I’m tired of sitting down at my computer and coming up blank. I’m tired of putting my fingers on the keyboard and having them just sit there, like limp noodles, unable to get out a few words, not to mention a sentence or (gasp!) a whole paragraph. So this is it. It’s over between us. I’m walking away from Writer’s Block.

Dear Writer’s Block,

We’ve been bosom buddies for awhile now. In fact, I followed you like a puppy for the whole last year. When I sat down to write, you were there. When I tried to focus on something worthwhile to say, you were beside me. We went everywhere together, and 2016 turned out to be one of my worst years ever for writing.

It’s as though you thought you were more important that my natural urge to write. And I guess I let you be.

But it’s 2017 now, and I’ve decided that I don’t need you in my life anymore. I’d say “it’s not you, it’s me,” but that would be wholly untrue. It’s you. All you. You’ve stolen my time, my peace, and my inspiration, and left me unsatisfied and miserable. You ate up my time and disturbed my inner sanctum and left me feeling worthless.

So you see, this can’t go on.

I’ve found someone new, someone who believes in me as a writer and I’m devoted to that new person in my life. His name is Muse, and I believe we were made for each other. Muse helps me think creatively and thinks I can write very well. So I guess I’ll hang out with Muse from now on. In fact, I think Muse and I can have a permanent relationship, one that will benefit me everyday and over the rest of my lifetime. And that’s something I really want.

So this is goodbye, Writer’s Block. I’d say it’s been fun, but it hasn’t been. I’d wish you well, but I don’t. So without further ado, goodbye.

Feeling free,

Me

 

 

 

05 Aug

What is the Gospel?

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YOU’VE PROBABLY MET PEOPLE who have told you about Jesus Christ, haven’t you? They may have said that Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship. They may have told you that you can have that relationship by saying a simple prayer. But that’s not the Gospel.

People have received many benefits of Christian life in this country, including peace and the ability to gather freely at places of worship, whether that is in a church building, a storefront, or a home. But that’s not the Gospel, either.

Christian fellowship may include teaching, praying, and eating together. Sharing the Lord’s Supper together is a wonderful way to fellowship. But it’s not the Gospel.

Here’s the Gospel. God is holy and righteous. I am not (neither are you). One day you will die and face the Lord God Himself. You will be judged, either on your own righteousness or that of someone else. Our righteousness is as filthy rags, says the Bible. So God caused His Son to walk through this world and live a sinless, righteous life. Then, to pay for all the sins I’ve committed (and you, too), He allowed His Son to be crucified and become the sacrificial lamb to pay for those sins. Then He raised Him from the dead. His death has purchased my freedom and given me His righteousness in place of my own (yours, too).

Now when I stand before God, I will be able to claim Jesus’ righteousness as my own (you can, too) and because of what He’s already done, I will be welcomed into God’s kingdom.

If you understand and believe that, then a simple prayer will, indeed, make you a Christian and guarantee your entrance into heaven. That’s called faith. The Bible says we must come to Him in faith, and His grace will do the rest.

Are you ready to believe? Jesus will save you. And that’s the Gospel truth.

14 Jul

A Gentleman’s Legacy

elbert001

 

It’s been almost two months since my father passed away.

Yesterday would have been his 86th birthday. And as I sit and reflect on his life and influence on me, I realize that the thing that most touches me is that he was a gentleman.

He held doors for women. He walked between me and traffic. He pulled out my mother’s chair. He taught my brothers what it meant to treat women right and he taught me how to expect a man to treat me.

We didn’t always see eye to eye.

In fact, during my teenage years (my rebellion), I didn’t even like him very much. But I always admired and loved him, nonetheless. I was proud that he was my dad, proud of the way he acted and looked the part of a gentleman. And while I was running around with people of dubious character behind his back, I never forgot what he represented.

He grew up in a family of faith, with a preacher for a father.

Somewhere along the way, he quit going to church and living his faith out loud. But he never let us forget the difference between right and wrong, and how to treat people with respect. In the end, a year or so before his death, he admitted to me that he was a believer, that he looked forward to being in heaven with Christ when he died. That meant the world to me.

He was generous and kind, but full of jokes and pranks, too.

Nothing delighted him more than finding himself the butt end of a joke, and the laugh lines on his face were deep. He could really put out the teasing, but he could take it, too.

I’ll never forget the year a friend gave him a live pig for his birthday. He reciprocated by giving her a monkey! And then there was the time he took a cow in another friend’s kitchen. (Somehow, though, he didn’t see the humor in it when I brought a pony in the house on our slate floors!)

All in all, I feel very blessed to have been raised by this man. He wasn’t perfect (who of us are?).

But he was a gentleman.