The Love of a Parent (or Elisabeth Threw up in My Hands)

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Elisabeth is trying to figure out why I gave her a rock and a snake.

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” – Luke 11:9-13 KJV

I made the mistake of telling my husband that I needed God to strike me with inspiration when I was trying to write this post for Ask God Today’s email series on Love.

It’s not that the Bible is short on topics about love. On the contrary there are a lot of great verses that refer to all kinds of love. My problem was I had to choose only one.

Then inspiration hit me like a rock and I grabbed these props and gave them to Elisabeth at our kitchen table.

“When your children are hungry, what do you give them?”

I then compare our love for our children to God’s love as our Heavenly Father.

Little did I know that Elisabeth wasn’t done giving me illustrations for this post.

Yes, she threw up in my room as I was writing this article and after I cleaned it all up her illness gave me more to write about.

Isn’t that how it goes sometimes?

“How many times has my Heavenly Father cleaned up the messes I’ve made? I may have to live with some of the stench, but as I draw closer to Him, I become healthier.

Elisabeth fell asleep in my arms. As I held her close I thought about how comforting it is to know that God is right there holding me close whenever I’m not well. He knows exactly what medicine we need.”

So that is how inspiration strikes this writing mom sometimes. :) As I say in this post, “I’m not a perfect parent. I make mistakes.”

But I’m just glad that God IS perfect. He knows exactly what I need when I need it.

You can read more about The Love of a Parent by clicking on this link or on the picture above.

Have you experienced God’s love in your life? Will you let Him pick you up? Feel free to share your experiences of parental love in the comments. I love to hear your stories.

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Plan to Finish

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Jonathan is standing beside several unfinished projects.

 

Each year starting in 2013 I have been choosing a word for the year. In fact it was a blog post by a fellow Tribe Writer called “Why you should have One Word for 2013” that got me started. Picking a theme word each year has really revolutionized my goal setting and how I keep up with it all.

I won’t bore you with all the details on how I’m not a list person and how before starting this method I gave myself way too many goals thus becoming overwhelmed and hardly accomplishing anything on the list at all. (Yes, I did just say all that in one breath!) 

Now I pick one simple word. A word that all my goals and aspirations can snuggle up to and get comfortable with. 

In 2013 my word was “Determined”. All that determination helped me get my writing off the ground. I finished my manifesto “Don’t Quit! Build a Legacy of Commitment“. Which you can download the pdf for free right here on my site. It was a really good year for my writing. 

That year I wrote a post about how my Life is Like a Boat. Despite all my determination I still felt unbalanced. I decided maybe if I chose the word “Organize” for 2014 I would find that balance. 

My family and I accomplished a lot in 2014. We got most of the house cleaned up. We traveled a lot without losing too many things. It was a very good organized year (at least organized for me). Even though things aren’t perfectly organized yet, it is better. I feel this past year was a successful year. We did so much more that we wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t even tried.

Now you are probably wondering about my word for 2015. 

I struggled to decide on a word. I started thinking about it in December as I was trying to do last minute organizing. One of the things I need to work on is making sure I keep my priorities straight. It sounds very noble. Make a list of the things that are the most important and focus on those things this year. However I couldn’t put my finger on why I didn’t quite feel that word working for me. As I tried to write down some things that I wanted to do this year using “Prioritize” as my key word my goals just looked flat.

My husband and I had our children list some things they wanted to accomplish this year. They wrote some pretty good goals and some lofty ones that will take them a lot of work to accomplish. Most of them were very good goals and they can achieve them all if they work hard at it.

New Year’s Eve my husband and I sat down with the kids and talked with them about their goals. I told them that one of the things I would like to see this year are goals actually being accomplished. I told them that if they set out to do a project I want to see those projects finished this year not just started.

Then my word for 2015 hit me between the eyes…”Finish”. My children are not the only ones that need to finish things. Suddenly my mind went to all the unfinished projects I have laying around the house. 

I never finished crocheting a blanket I started around 10 years ago. I’ve worked at it off and on (more off than on) but never finished it. I have a lot of blog posts just from this past year that I started writing but never finished. I have books that I planned to write and some I even started but never finished. 

I look back on my life and realized that a lot of those unfinished projects stem from a problem in my mind. Somewhere in my life I got into the bad habit of assuming things weren’t going to get finished. 

For way too long I have set myself up for failure.

This year I’m going to finish. I’m going to finish that blanket. I’m going to finish getting organized. I’m going to finish cleaning my house up. I’m going to finish writing a book. I’m going to finish the writing courses I started. I’m going to finish reading my Bible through. Everything I start I’m going to make plans to finish.

I’m going to help the kids finish their projects as well. This year will be very productive and I’m going to keep a list of every project we finish. 

I already know our Rock Solid Family will finish this New Year out strong. 

How about you? Do you have some goals for this year? If you were to summarize them into one word, what would that word be? I can’t wait to hear from you. Please share your word for the year in the comments

Together let’s make 2015 the best year yet!

Right now? I am going to finish taking down that Christmas tree!

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Do You Like Me?

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“Do you like me?”

“Mommy, do you like me?” my 4 year old asks me as I wash the dishes.

“Of course, Elijah, I love you!” I respond.

“But do you like me?” he asks with his big brown eyes peering into mine.

A question like that begs for reflection as I try to figure out why he would question whether I like him or not. Surely he knows I love him!

Then as I thought about it I realized what he is really asking.

He knows I love him. He has no doubt about that but deep inside he just wants to hear that I like him too. How can you help but love someone you like? So in his mind if you like someone it’s automatic that you love them too.

You have to realize a little bit about this sweet boy of mine. He’s a friend to everyone. He doesn’t go anywhere without having made a new best friend. He has always been that way.

One year at a large meeting of churches there was a time for Missionaries and their families to stand up in front of the crowd. They invited anyone that wanted to go up there and pray with the Missionaries during a song to do so. Elijah in all of his young excitement burst up there to find a new best friend to pray with.

Yet the question still lingers, “Do you like me?”

We all want to be liked. Don’t we?

That’s why we are afraid to make mistakes. We want people to like us and be our friend and the friends we already have we don’t want to lose.

Elijah’s question reminds me of the question Jesus asked Peter.

Peter was going through a rough time in his life. He had chopped a soldier’s ear off in order to defend Jesus from a whole army. Jesus told him to stop and healed the man’s ear. Then Jesus went with the soldiers without a fight. While outside waiting for Jesus’ trial, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. Then he ran away as Jesus was killed.

Jesus rose from the dead and revealed himself to the apostles. 

Peter must have still harbored doubts as to his purpose on earth. He was at a point of wanting to give up on his ministry. What good was he after he had denied Jesus? What was he supposed to do now? Finally he throws his hands up in the air and announces to the others, “I’m going fishing!” And his friends followed him.

Then Jesus shows up. The apostles are in their boat and Jesus shouts to them from the shore. Peter jumps overboard and swims to the shore. Then this conversation took place.

“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?’

He saith unto him, ‘Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.’

He saith unto him, ‘Feed my lambs.’

He saith to him again the second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?’

He saith unto him, ‘Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.’

He saith unto him, ‘Feed my sheep.’

He saith unto him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?’

Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, ‘Lovest thou me?’

And he said unto him, ‘Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.’

Jesus saith unto him, ‘Feed my sheep.’ “ – John 21:15-17 KJV

Peter was sad when Jesus asked him this 3 times. Peter knew when he returned to fishing he was giving up on the ministry that Jesus called him to and he was influencing those around him. The other apostles that returned to fishing were following Peter not Jesus.

So Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me? Do you even like me?”

Things changed for Peter that day. He rededicated his life to following the Master.

Do you love Jesus? Do you like Him?

Don’t just tell Jesus you love Him. Show Him by following Him everyday. It doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do for Him yesterday.

Today is a new day. Start now!

If you want to know how or where to start feel free to contact me. I would love to show you from the Bible how to have a closer walk with the Master. 

Do you already have a close relationship with God? How about your family? Would you like your whole family to draw closer to God and each other?

I’m working out my blogging plans for 2015. If there is a subject you or your family are struggling with that you would like me to talk about in a future post please don’t hesitate to ask. We have big plans this coming year for building up our Rock Solid Family and I would love for you to join us.

~~ Anastacia “Stacie” Maness ~~

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24 KJV

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Choose Wisely

I really wanted to get a blog post finished this week. Perhaps doing a quick Five Minute Friday post with Lisa-Jo Baker would help me get out of this horrible case of writer’s block. So here we go. The rules: Write for 5 minutes flat. No editing. No overthinking. Just write. Then link up and encourage the blogger in front of you. Today’s word: Choose.

I’m setting my timer and …

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Go!

Today I am choosing to do Five Minute Friday. I haven’t blogged in so long. This month was so busy and I chose to take my daughter every Friday to her basketball practice. Then I chose to attend her basketball games with the whole family. We loved watching her play. With a family of 8 you always have a large cheering section.

In basketball my daughter wanted her friends to choose to throw the ball to her. Sometimes she was chosen and sometimes they chose to throw it to someone else. No matter who was chosen she still got excited whenever they scored.

I want my children to make good choices in life. I want them to choose to follow God. Right now my husband and I make the decisions for them but one day they will be on their own and I hope they choose to do what is right even when we, their parents are no longer watching them. I need to teach them now so that they are prepared for that day. I want them to choose wisely.

Stop.

Ooh… This was good for me. This helped open my mind and unlock the writer’s block.

So if you will bear with me I’ll continue my above thought a little bit further. :)

I have been wanting to write about friendship. But every time I tried it seemed to just fall flat. Now I know what it is I’ve been wanting to say.

I want my children to choose their friends wisely.

How do you choose your friends? Friendship doesn’t just happen.

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

                                             — Proverbs 18:24 KJV

You have a choice. Who will you lead? Who will you follow? Who will you defend? Whose team will you choose to be on?

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

                                       –Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 KJV

Will your friends lift you up when you fall? Are you willing to help them up?

“Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.

                                                        –Proverbs 27:10 KJV

With whom will you choose to be friends?

Five Minute Friday

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Dear Children: A Letter from a Mom

I am writing this letter to my children. Perhaps your children might benefit too.

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Dear Children,

As your parents, we want you to know that we really do understand.
Your father and I have been in your shoes before. We grew up in different homes and under different circumstances. Those differences in our raising helps us to better know what challenges you face today and in the future.

God expects you to honor and obey us even though we are not perfect. Learn from our mistakes. Be respectful even when… especially when you disagree with us.

Not all children have godly parents. They need good examples to watch how a family should be. You may one day be a mentor that a child will look up to. Set a good example of love and respect. You never know who is watching your life and wanting to be like you.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

– Ephesians 6:1-3 KJV

The Bible says to honor your parents. Give us the respect God intended you to give.

Listen to the wisdom from our years of experience. Listen as we share what God has given us to share.

Be obedient children. If you obey, life will go much better for you. You will be learning from us and will not have to make the same mistakes we have made.

You will one day soon be embarking on your own life and adventures. Soon it will be up to you to make your own decisions. You will not be able to blame your father and I for what choices you will make. It will ultimately be up to you what you do with the rest of your life.

It is hard on us as parents to see you feel bad. When you realize you are weak in an area, we have trouble pointing out what you need to work on. We want you to know right now, we love you and only want you to be the best you can be. You should strive for your highest potential.

It is okay to feel bad about the things you do wrong. We don’t always have to feel good about ourselves. We need to feel guilty at times. How else will we know we need help if we never allow ourselves to feel how terrible our mistakes are?

God can give us the ultimate help and greatest relief from our pain. If we never feel bad, we will never strive to be better. We all need to do better.

This does not mean to drag yourself in the dirt and be depressed. No. I’m saying to realize your weaknesses. Make the necessary improvements. If you do, you will be a stronger and wiser person.

There is a place for humility. It is very easy to be proud of ourselves and of our accomplishments. It is a difficult thing to remain humble. People appreciate a humble spirit.

Be willing to put others before yourself. Be slow to brag on your own accomplishments. Be quick to praise other’s accomplishments. That is what it means to be humble. It is okay to realize you are doing well. No matter how old you are I will always love you to call me to tell me everything that you have done. I am and always will be proud of you.

Treat people the way you would want to be treated, even if they do not treat you the same way in return.

God knows your heart. Pray to him. Tell Him your regrets and fears. He is always there to listen and help.

Always remember that God loves you. He will always be there for you even if your father and I can’t. God is always ready and waiting for you to call on Him. Just as I say that I’m just a phone call away. God is even closer. He is just a prayer away. You don’t have to get your phone out and dial a number for Him. All you have to do is speak and He is right there with you to listen and help.

I have so much more to teach you. I’m very thankful that God gave you to me. I am very proud of you. I love you!

Love,

Mommy

If you could write a letter to your children or grandchildren what would you write? If you have a blog consider writing a letter to your own children. If you do please share the link with us in the comments. I would love to read what you have to say.

This is Day 24 of 31 Days Building Commitment. Only 7 days to go in this series. If you want to see a basic outline of where this series is going check out my book “Don’t Quit: Build a Legacy of Commitment“.

Tomorrow I will take a break to tell about our Jonathan’s Birthday.  Breaks like that won’t count in the series they will simply be added bonuses sprinkled in. :)

Thanks for following!

~~ Anastacia ~~

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Raising Children In a Messed Up World

As parents, there are a lot of things we may worry about concerning our children. They are a gift from God. They are a precious treasure that God has entrusted into our care.

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A typical school day at our home. Our children working on their lessons.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

– Psalms 127:3-5 KJV

We love them, invest our time in them, teach them…

They start growing up and we begin to look around. We start looking at the world from a parent’s eyes. Who will our children marry one day? What kind of homes are our children’s future spouses growing up in right now?

It’s hard to think that my future daughter-in-laws and sons-in-laws are alive right now and I won’t know anything about them for quite a few more years.

Oh… but those years are passing quickly!

I cannot know what my children will face in their future but I can prepare them now as they start to step out into this world of brokenness.

These are the things my husband and I will teach our children now, while we wait.

  1. How to find the answers in the Bible to the different situations they may face.
  2. How to resist temptations that will be thrown at them.
  3. How to pick the right person to marry.
  4. How to be committed to their spouse no matter the storms that may come.
  5. How to set a good example for their families.
  6. How to teach their children.
  7. How to say they are sorry when they make mistakes even to someone younger than themselves.
  8. How to treat someone that thinks differently from them.
  9. How to speak words of praise for other people’s strengths.
  10. How to gently encourage someone to grow through their weakness.

My children have all different personalities. I have the quiet ones and the talkative ones. Some of my children are full of energy and extroverted while others are silent and introverted. I teach them how to get along with one another despite their obvious differences.

One day they will most likely marry someone much different from themselves. Their spouse will most likely have a different background. They will face their own challenges. I cannot predict what those challenges will be because they will be starting their own families.

It is our job as their parents to prepare them in the best way possible. I am praying for my future children-in-laws that God protects them through whatever situation and temptation they may face.

I also pray that God gives me and my husband the wisdom to teach our children these things. It may seem like a terrible thing to bring children up in a cruel world. Then again this world be even worse if God’s children didn’t raise up more jewels to bring beauty in this world of pain and suffering.

Your children are gifts from God for you to love and cherish. Teach them right.

Many times children will marry someone just like their mother or father. Are you modeling the kind of marriage you want your children to have? Do you treat your spouse with the kind of mutual respect you want for their marriages?

What are some lessons you want to teach your children before they grow up? Please tell us about them in the comments.

This is Day 23 of 31 Days Building Commitment. Only 8 more days to go. In my next post I will be addressing children and what they need to do.

This series is based upon my book “Don’t Quit: Build a Legacy of Commitment” which you can download for free here.

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Be Their Parent Not Their Friend

Art Credit: Scott Maness

Art Credit: Scott Maness

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 KJV

Parents, your children need you to be their parents. There is a difference in being their parent and being their peer.

God put you in a special position to bring your children up “in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:1 NIV)

The best time to start this process is while they are young. Many times I have had to imagine an unruly 2 year old doing the same thing as a teenager. No matter how cute and innocent they seem as toddlers they still need their parents to show them what is right and what is wrong.

You can see one such example from a blog post I wrote at The Beginning of 2012. I could very easily let that be today’s blog post. Parents need to be firm and consistent in how they handle their children. You cannot worry about being their friend. You are their parent.

They may not always like you but they will respect you and love you for setting boundaries. Many times parents wonder why their children grow to be so bitter and angry at them when they give them everything they could possibly want.

Children need their parents to be parents. They don’t need you to be their sibling. You need to be their parent and teacher.

That does not mean you don’t listen to them. You do need to listen to them. What they have to say is important. You need to keep this in mind.

Listen to exactly what they are telling you. Ask them questions. If they have a complaint, hear them out.

Show you care but be firm in what is best for them. It’s okay to explain things to them. But don’t apologize for being their parent. Don’t give in to letting them have something you know will not help them.

They don’t need everything their friends have. This will be hard to teach your child when they are a teenager if you have not taught them as a small child. If as a small child you gave them everything they could possibly want then you will find they will resist your telling them “no” now.

If you are now faced with teenagers and have made some of these mistakes, it’s not necessarily too late. It will be harder and you will have to be careful in how you approach each obstacle you will face. Be extra quick to listen and slow to speak.

Explain to them and apologize to them for whatever mistakes you have made in the past. Tell them that now you would like to be a better parent and show them that you care about them and how they feel. They need to know that you want what is best for them and are there to help them reach their full potential.

Help them to find friends that are good influences on them. Take them to church. Don’t just send them. What you want to be important to them, let it be important to you as well.

You are their parent. Teach them to love you.

Do you teach your children? Are you afraid that they will not like you? Do you have any other parenting tips for us? Please share them with us in the comments.

This is Day 22 of 31 Days Building Commitment. These posts are expanding on my book “Don’t Quit: Build a Legacy of Commitment”.  You can download your free copy here.

Sometimes I feel these posts are a bit rushed. That is because I’m trying to get them written quickly in order to get to my other responsibilities in the home. If you see any mistakes, or have any questions about something I might say that is confusing please send me an email or fill out the contact form and I’ll fix the post as soon as I possibly can. If you are reading, this post by email please check the actual blog post first to see if I’ve already made the necessary corrections.

At the end of this series I will be going to a much easier to maintain pace. I will probably give myself 2 Days per post in order to make corrections before posting. Thanks for baring with me and continuing to follow along in this series.

~~ Anastacia ~~

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True Love and Commitment in Marriage

Elisabeth asleep with her hands in my sleeves

Elisabeth asleep with her hands in my sleeves. The picture is a little blurry because it was dark in the room.

I am sure some of you may have missed my posts over the weekend. I decided that if I was going to write about love, marriage, and commitment that I needed to be living it. So this weekend I went ahead and put my writing aside to enjoy my family.

Yes, I could have blogged from my phone. But which is better being in karate class with my family or sitting on the sidelines typing a blog post with my thumbs?

I could have stayed in the car while my family went into the store to buy art supplies, but then I would have missed the chance to offer hospitality to friends we saw in the store.

Saturday night I could have blogged but then I would not have been playing my ukulele while my husband played his viola. And then there was the chess game we played together.

Sunday afternoon, I chose to not worry about writing. Instead, I enjoyed watching our children play with their friends after church. We hadn’t seen our friends in a long while and it was a blessing that they visited us.

We had a Bible Study at our church Sunday night. After we got our children to bed, I chose to sleep instead of write. A well rested mother makes for a much happier family.

This morning I read a book to my 3 youngest children while their siblings were working with some animals on a neighbor’s ranch.

This afternoon I agreed to let my son have a pet rooster. I originally planned to let him start with chickens and eventually have a rooster. However my mothering heart realized he was on a humanitarian mission to rescue a rooster that was destined to possibly be someone’s next meal. A pet rooster might be good for him.

I rocked my baby to sleep for a nap. I do not rock her to sleep at night but for a nap, I do. She is growing up so quickly and I know it won’t be long when she won’t let me rock her anymore. So I rock her with her hands stuck up my sleeves. I haven’t fully figured out why she likes to stick her hands up my sleeves when she is tired but she does. I guess she finds comfort that way.

My husband came home and I listened to how his day went before he left with our son to pick up the rooster. They came back with not only the rooster but a hen as well. I guess they didn’t want the rooster to be lonely all by itself.

And while my husband was gone with our son, he told me I should get this blog post written. So I started this post. I also answered what felt like a million questions.

I then rocked the baby to sleep for the second time. Who was so rudely awakened by a brother coming in asking more questions at the top of his voice.

I can’t stop life from happening around me. Sometimes I have to put what I want aside for my family. I can’t be angry with my children for wanting my attention when I would rather write. My husband needs my attention too. Life cannot be only about me and what I want. I need to also keep in mind others and what they want.

This past weekend I chose to live out building commitment instead of just writing about it. That is what this world needs after all, someone to stand up and set an example of what a committed marriage and family should look like.

Have you ever had to give up something you really wanted in order to show commitment to your family? Please share with me in the comments.

Right now our children are in bed and my husband is washing dishes so I can come in here and finish this post. That is what true love looks like. Doing what we wouldn’t want to do otherwise for the good of the one we love.

This is Day 18 of 31 Days Building Commitment. Tomorrow we will continue the series where we left off Friday with finding commitment after divorce.

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Three Steps Toward a Happy Marriage

sselephantsDuring the early years of our marriage, my husband and I had to learn to work with each other. We also had to learn how to communicate. It wasn’t always easy. I mentioned in my last post that since divorce was not an option we could either learn to live together for life as two miserable individuals or we could work hard to learn how to have a happy marriage.

Today I’m going to share a few steps my husband and I took to build a happy marriage.

1. Don’t give up!

First, we did not give up. This is very important. We may have had moments where we felt like giving up.

“He won’t listen to me!”

“She isn’t paying attention!”

“What is so hard about putting away a simple dish?”

“Why won’t he take out the trash?”

These were all questions we internalized. It would have been pretty easy to keep all those problems internal and not even try to communicate. Neither of us like conflict. If we kept our feelings pent up inside then we wouldn’t have to risk making the other person angry.

But by giving up, are we the only ones truly affected? Will the feelings that I think is being kept on the inside really not affect my relationship with my husband? When I have a problem, I can’t give up and hope it just goes away. I have to be proactive and work with my husband not distance myself from him.

2. Read books on marriage.

This is one thing that my husband and I did a lot of. We really liked self-help books and would read and read. There were some books that I remember really benefiting from. Then there were others that left me crying and feeling hopeless. My husband looked at the ones that made me feel bad and he said not to listen to those. You have to consider the source. Some people are writing from a selfish world view. Even if they are popular books that does not mean they are good.

Some books that helped me were

  1. Wife After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George
  2. Opposites Attract Attack by Jack and Carole Mayhall
  3. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  4. Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley
  5. The Act of Marriage by Tim and Beverly Lahaye

Those are just a few of the books that impacted my life. I may think of more but those are the ones that come immediately to mind.

From these books I learned that it is a good thing to do whatever you can to show your spouse that you love them. Don’t be selfish with your love. Learn their primary love language and find ways to show them you love them not just in your own preferred way but how the way they like to be shown love.

For instance if your spouse loves to be given gifts and your preferred method to show love is quality time. Then find someway to put the two together. Perhaps you can save up your money and invest it in quality time shopping together for something you specifically need or want. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift to show you care.

3. Show you care about your spouse’s hobbies.

Do things together. Does your spouse like music. Find an instrument you can enjoy playing along on. Art? Find ways to be creative together. Writing? Find ways to help. Exercise? Put aside your pride and sweat a little.

I had problems with this early in our marriage. I worried over everything. Is taking karate classes with my husband very lady like? There weren’t very many other women in the class. Most just sat on the sidelines. I don’t want to get hurt. I’ll just watch. But just watching and actually taking part are two totally different things. I’ll talk more on this in a future post.

I also had a problem with learning the guitar. My husband was teaching me how to play the guitar. He was impressed with how fast I learned and how well I remembered chords. I was afraid what if I got better than him at guitar? I didn’t want him to feel bad if I was getting that good at it. So I quit trying. I backed off. Then I read, I believe it was in the Opposite’s Attack book, that my husband actually wants me to take part in his activities. He isn’t jealous if I get better at it than him. In fact, he finds it something worth bragging about.

scottstacieocarinasThat little piece of truth had me crying. I told my husband what I read and he said that it was true. He likes it when I take part in what he is doing and isn’t jealous of my learning something faster than him. He is just thrilled that I am willing to join him in the fun.

Now I play chess, take karate class, play various instruments, draw, and write. Any activity that my husband is interested in, I now take an active part. I play games with him. I go outside my comfort zone and take short term mission trips with him. Even shy little ol’ me took a picture with an elephant giving my hair some extra conditioning. (At least I’m not describing what I got in my hair in the above picture. My expression should tell it all.) :)

Right now our biggest project together is my writing. He has been painting some really beautiful pictures to illustrate anything I write. We’re partners and best friends.

Did you find resources that helped you get through the hard times? Do you have a hobby that you enjoy with your spouse? Please share with us in the comments.

This was Day 16 of 31 Days Building Commitment.

Tomorrow, I am honored to share with you a guest post by a childhood friend of mine, Jill Luna. Jill will be telling us how she found love and commitment even after experiencing failed marriages.

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Commitment After the Honeymoon is Over

You’re wedding day was a success. The two of you either had a short honeymoon somewhere close to home or a longer honeymoon visiting some special place.

You arrive at your new home together. Maybe for the first few days, weeks, or months you still feel you are on your honeymoon. Life is great. You see only sunshine and flowers. Life starts to get into some kind of routine. Perhaps you both have a job and you go back to work. Or maybe just one of you is working while the other stays home dealing with the work that is involved in making this house your home.

My husband and I in our first home.

My husband and I in our first home.

Either way, you begin to see that neither of you are perfect. We are all selfish human beings. Sometimes even the most giving person has a selfish streak somewhere hidden. And if you really truly are unselfish it is because you have worked very hard to get to where you are at. It is hard to consider the other person’s feeling over our own.

When my husband and I were first married, I had to quit my job. It wasn’t a hard decision since the grocery store my husband and I both worked for didn’t allow spouses to work together at that time. My husband had worked for that company longer than I and was making more money per hour. We agreed that I would be the one to stay home.

firsthome

Our First House – built on my dad’s land with the help of family

The first two years of our marriage was probably the hardest. I was not used to being at home by myself. I had grown up with a brother and a sister at home. I don’t think I had ever really been alone much. So it was a struggle for me to adjust to being home next door to my family while he worked and went to seminary.

I attended seminary with him for the first year of our marriage and I believe some of the things I learned there helped a lot. However I was not prepared to stay home and keep house. I kept finding myself going over to my parents for visits and not having things kept up at our home. This was before our first child came along. Looking back I don’t know why it was so hard for me to adjust to married life.ourfirsthome2

I remember during one of our “interesting discussions” as newly weds. (We never used the word argument, I guess we wanted to be able to say we never argued). Anyway during one of our arguments “interesting discussions”, I was in tears begging him to let us move to some place away from my family.

Why was I wanting to leave my family? My husband got along with them. They let us make our own decisions. The reason was I was sorely tempted in my own mind to spend all my time over there. We were very close knit and I realized that all the time I spent over there was creating a void between my husband and myself. I felt that moving away would help.

Do you notice something here? I was not arguing with him. I didn’t look at him as the problem for my own mistakes. I didn’t look at our marriage as overbearing. I was trying to find a way to solve my own issues. I felt moving would cause me to have to figure out how to do things on my own.

My husband hated seeing me cry. He too was having to learn how to live with someone that wasn’t perfect and didn’t know how to do all the things he used to do growing up as an only child. He didn’t have help doing dishes and cooking. What he was having to learn was how to talk to and get along with another person that grew up completely different from him.

Communication and commitment was what kept us together during those trying times. Divorce never crossed our minds. We knew that if we didn’t work out these differences we would being living our entire lives miserable. We didn’t want a miserable marriage. We wanted a happily-ever-after marriage.

Now it’s your turn. What do you remember being the hardest time period in your marriage? Was it the early years or did your honeymoon phase last longer? Please share with us in the comments. I love to hear your experiences.

This is Day 15 of 31 Days Building Commitment. Tomorrow I will be discussing more on marriage and how to build trust and friendship even when your spouse isn’t perfect.

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