My husband knows I love fresh flowers. Nearly every week, he fills my crystal vase
with flowers. Often he selects roses, but we’ve had many different types. I truly enjoy the various blooms. Last week, I heard our girls discussing the dozen
red roses in the vase that sat on top of the kitchen counter. One said “Don’t waste money on flowers, save
it for jewelry.” They all seemed to
agree on the concept. It’s a sentiment I’ve heard through the
If you know Tim, you know he is “thrifty”. He doesn’t buy extravagant bouquets. My weekly flowers come from the selection at
the grocery store. They are not
expensive, but that doesn’t change their beauty or their meaning to me.
I appreciate good jewelry.
My wedding ring is a symbol of the endless, eternal love we share. Tim designed it to represent two broken
people coming together to become one. It
is precious to me. But, as much as I
love the meaning behind this ring, there is so much more to building a lasting,
successful marriage. Marriage is all
about daily sacrifice. Every day, I commit
myself to making my marriage better.
Sometimes that means I don’t get what I want. Sometimes that means I step back and put my
husband’s needs ahead of my own.
Sometimes, we both make sacrifices in the best interest of our family. There are days that aren’t spectacular and in
fact there are more ordinary days than extraordinary in this day to day life.
A vase filled with flowers remind me how fragile
relationships can be. Flowers are beautiful. If I keep them watered
and protected, I will get days and maybe weeks of beauty. Still, they fade. New flowers must be added to the vase to
continue to enjoy them. If they are
neglected, the water turns green and fungus begins to grow. Before too long, the vase is stained and
marred forever from neglect and disuse.
Marriages are just as fragile. I have
to pay attention and care about the details.
I cannot assume that the first days of romance will effortlessly continue. I need to renew my commitment to my marriage,
to my romance every day. Just as fresh
flowers can refill the vase, fresh attention replenishes a marriage. Are there days when I don’t really want to
invest in my relationship? Of course there are.
Sometimes, I have the RIGHT to be upset, depressed or angry. But, I cannot allow those moments to turn
into days or weeks of selfish indignation.
At some point, I have to pull up my big-girl panties and decide what is
most important. The world will tell me that I deserve to be
happy. The flowers remind me that happiness
can be fleeting. But, the joy I find in my marriage, much like the crystal vase
that holds and provides for the flowers, will stand strong and ready.
I hope my husband never tires of giving me flowers. For every flower reminds me of our love: past, present and future.
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”
Jeremiah 29:11 MSG
I am the oldest of three children. I am also the first grandchild on both sides
of my family. I am the definition of “the
There are lots of perks that come with being the
oldest. Hand-me downs don’t exist when
you are the first-born. As the oldest,
you get to do things first. You get the
undivided attention of your parents and grandparents when you are the only one.
But, there are some downers to being the
oldest. You are the first one that has
to learn to share – everything. You are
the “learner” child: your siblings get
to do things you were never allowed to do. And even though it’s nice to be the
first, it also means you will be the first to fail.
The first born has only adults with which to compare
himself/herself. Think about what an
oldest/only child sees: Everyone around
can walk without holding on or falling down. The only crawling seems to be to encourage the
baby to get up. You are being watched at
every moment, so you try to please. Communication is crucial and the praise
received is worth the effort. A first
born learns early that you don’t want to disappoint the big people.
The first born gets more attention. This is partly because the baby stuff is so
new, but also because the time is spent with just this one child. Just
look at photo albums or baby books. The
first child will have tons of pictures and a complete baby book. Child #2 will have a few pictures and a good
start on the baby book. Any other
siblings will just have to make do with a few snapshots and will be grateful if
a baby book was even purchased. The
first born will benefit from more time being read to and being taught at
home. Even when siblings are added, the
oldest child will continue to benefit from the time spent learning as a
As soon as another sibling is added, the oldest child
becomes a leader. We know how it should
be done and will not hesitate to point it out to our younger siblings. We will be put in charge of our siblings and
reminded that we are “older” and therefore “more responsible”. Some will call this being a natural
leader. Others call it being bossy.
First born children tend to be perfectionists, leaders, good
students, and teachers. We are often
people pleasers that fear failing. I
never tried anything that I wasn’t pretty sure I would excel at. If there was a chance that I might look
silly, I did not attempt it. I was never
good at roller skating, mainly because I did not want to fall. It hurt and people would laugh. My younger brother was a good skater. Granted, he was black and blue from throwing
himself into the “experience.” But, he
had fun and enjoyed it. I would rather
spend my time with a good book or a logic puzzle.
I was always at the top of my class in school. Learning came easy to me. I wouldn’t classify myself as an
overachiever, I just did what came easily. My classmates that thought I had it
made. While others would be praised for
getting a “B” on report cards, I had to get all “A’s and A+”. Even an “A-“wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t until I was taking college classes
that I was really challenged. I had to
learn to study. It was hard to accept
that I might not be “the best” after all.
But, it was also in college classes that I found I could enjoy learning
without being the best. As a junior
accounting major, I had a class under Dean of the School of Business, Dr.
Lauderdale. He promised to weed out the
bookkeepers from the accountants in his class.
He was strict and had high expectations.
Our class size dropped by 50% as the semester commenced. Before our last final, Dr. Lauderdale looked
at me and said “You have a B in this class.
If you ace the final or not, you have a solid B. Don’t come to the final.” I have never been so excited to be told I was
a B student!
I still struggle with perfectionistic tendencies. This causes lots of anxiety in my life. I play scenes over and over in my head of how
I disappoint my friends and family. There
are days when I feel like I’m balancing on a pin cushion. When I am out of control or over-whelmed, I
protect myself with a veil of detachment.
I separate myself from those areas.
If they don’t exist, they cannot hurt me, right? My husband helps me to see past the veil and
to accept that I can only be the best that I can be. If someone is disappointed at my best
efforts, then that’s not my problem. Hurt
and disappointments are part of life. I
cannot avoid them.
I still don’t like to do anything without a road map. I want to know EXACTLY what is coming before
I step out. But, I’ve learned that is
not always possible. But these things I
I CAN make phone calls when I must. (Many of you
know how much a hate to do that!)
I CAN meet new people and get to know them
without hyperventilating. (I still do
better in small groups.)
I CAN make decisions and live my life the way
God leads me. (Even when others don’t agree/understand.)
I CAN trust that others will love me. (Love isn’t earned, it’s given.)
I am the oldest of three children. I am the first grandchild on both sides of my
family. And, I am a beloved child of
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”
Psalm 139:13-14 NLT
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.”
I learned a lot from grief.
I learned that my identity was as a wife, a mother and a daughter. When I lost my husband, and later my dad, a lot
of what made me feel whole seemed to disappear.
For years, I submerged myself in my role as “mom”. I needed my kids as much as they needed
me. As they grew up and moved on with
their lives, I again lost my touch point, my anchor. Where did I belong? How would I make a difference? It was a struggle. I forgot what it meant to be just “me”.
Have you ever felt the effects of too much caffeine? That jumpy, panicky feeling became normal for
me. Most days, I felt like I need to
crawl out of my own skin. On the days when my kids weren’t around or I
didn’t have to work, I stayed in bed. It
was easier to sleep than to face my reality.
I didn’t keep up with my house or
my yard. I avoided being at home as much
as I could. I didn’t know how to ask for
help. I didn’t know if there was any
help. I was overwhelmed. I was supposed to be strong and I was embarrassed
to admit that I was failing in every area.
I just tried to keep my head above water.
I lived this way for almost 10 years. I knew I had to get used to my new “normal”
and believed that I had dealt with my grief.
I helped with grief recovery groups.
I put on a good face. I didn’t
realize that I was living with depression.
All the things that had given my life meaning seemed to be
disappearing. My son and daughter didn’t
need a hands-on mom. I had accepted that
I would live out the rest of my life alone.
It had been long enough. I had to get over it all. I had to close the door on the part of my
life that wanted to be loved and accepted.
But, I had a friend that listened to me. A friend heard what I said and what I didn’t
really want heard. He asked questions I
didn’t want to answer. He probed into
areas that were off-limits. He
recommended counseling. He encouraged me
to trust again. He challenged me to open
the doors that I had closed and sort through those emotions and dreams. He waited patiently to be allowed into all
areas of my life.
There are many that question the choices I’ve made over the
last four years. And, there are those that frankly, just
disapprove of the life I now have. I’ve
heard the whispers and I’ve seen the looks.
I don’t have any doubts that I am
exactly where I need to be. I married my
dearest friend. I have never felt safer
or more secure. I am loved deeply and
completely. Our life is not without its
challenges and frustrations, but we face them together.
I have learned that grief is love turned upside down. I will never give up the opportunity to
experience a deep and passionate love in order to avoid the pain of grief. Love is worth EVERYTHING!
We all want to be loved. We search for love. I remember the song “Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places”. So, what is love, really?
The definition from the dictionary is:
1. an intense feeling of deep affection 2. a great interest and pleasure in something 3. feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone)
In 1 Corinthians 13, this is the definition of love:
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 MSG
This is the love that most of us search for during our lives. It’s not “All about me”. This true love is all about caring, sacrifice, humility, truth and trust.
This God given love doesn’t require happiness to exist, but it does provide great joy. It requires perseverance and hard work in the face of obstacles. Even if you are willing to give this kind of complete love, there is no guarantee that you will receive the same in return. But, this love never looks back, never gives up and never walks away looking for a “better deal.”
Which love would you prefer: The “intense feeling of deep affection” or unending devoted love the “never gives up”?
Are you willing to love and never give up? I hope so. It’s definitely worth it!
Easter Sunday has come and gone once again. The chocolate bunnies and candy eggs are now sitting on the clearance aisles. I have always enjoyed Easter eggs; the dying, the hiding and the hunting. Some of my fondest memories are of the egg hunts at my grandparents farm with my cousins and family members. Eggs would be found for days around the yard after Easter. I looked forward to the new dress, the shiny new shoes and maybe a new hat. Easter was the beginning of spring. A new beginning for the year. But, I’ve learned that Easter (or Resurrection Day) is so much more than frilly dresses and colorful eggs.
Easter is all about Love. True, deep and passionate love. It is a blueprint for each of us to know what it is to love sacrificially. In short, the meaning of Easter is how we, as Christians, are to love. Period.
The week before the crucifixion, Jesus is honored with a dinner and a very expensive anointing. Mary knew the meaning of sacrificing for one you love.
Six days before Passover, Jesus entered Bethany where Lazarus, so recently raised from the dead, was living. Lazarus and his sisters invited Jesus to dinner at their home. Martha served. Lazarus was one of those sitting at the table with them. Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, even then getting ready to betray him, said, “Why wasn’t this oil sold and the money given to the poor? It would have easily brought three hundred silver pieces.” He said this not because he cared two cents about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of their common funds, but also embezzled them. 7-8 Jesus said, “Let her alone. She’s anticipating and honoring the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you. You don’t always have me.” Word got out among the Jews that he was back in town. The people came to take a look, not only at Jesus but also at Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead.
John 12:1-10 MSG
Have you ever kept something precious for yourself? I have! I used to hide my Christmas candy. It was something I felt the need to share. It was MINE! Mary offered something not only special, but very expensive. A gift borne out of love and devotion.
Later in the week, Jesus would celebrate the Passover with his disciples. It was customary to wash the feet of the guests before the meal. Not one of the disciples was willing to do this. But, Jesus was willing.
Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron.
John 13:3-5 MSG
Have you ever heard or uttered the phrase “It’s not my job”? My husband and I have various responsibilities around the house. On more than one occasion, I have used this phrase to get out of a less than pleasant task. Washing feet would be one of those things I would not want to do. But, Jesus took a servant’s position. It may not have been His job, but it was His pleasure.
Jesus lived love. How different would our lives be if we followed His directions to ” Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” Would my marriage be better if I loved my spouse more than I love myself and put my bucket list down and honored him instead? How would my children react if they witnessed that they were more important to me than my own agenda or enjoyment?
“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
“You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
“But remember the root command: Love one another.
John 15: 9-17 MSG
Jesus knew what was coming. He knew the next days would be brutally painful. He knew. And, He continued to love and to sacrifice for us.
Then he told them, “My soul is crushed with horror and sadness to the point of death . . . stay here . . . stay awake with me.” He went forward a little, and fell face downward on the ground, and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup be taken away from me. But I want your will, not mine.”
Matthew 26:38-39 TLB
Christ took the punishment that I deserve. He stood in the gap for me. He was beaten and murdered to give me the gift of God’s love. All that is asked in return is that I put my faith in Him and love other’s just like He loves me.
He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him.
Isaiah 53:5-6 MSG
The next time I’m upset because I didn’t get my way, I will remember what Jesus did for me. When loving another person means walking away from my own pursuit of happiness, I will choose to walk in Love. On those days when I think I am being asked to give up too much too often, I will rethink my own comfort and walk the walk that Jesus taught.
What does Easter mean to you? Is it just a time for games and bunny rabbits? Or, is there a deeper meaning to this day of celebration? Are you willing to truly love in the sacrificial and passionate way that Jesus taught? What does it mean to Love?
Between my husband and I, we have 5 children between the ages of 20 and 30. Both of our boys are married. One of our daughters is newly engaged and planning her summer wedding. The other 2 girls are in their own relationships. We are surrounded with young love and wedding talk which can be very exciting. The talk of love and happiness is everywhere. Love is a wonderful thing. But, there are days when Love is just difficult. And it’s on those days that happiness seems to disappear. So, what makes it all worth it?
I married my first husband in my late twenties. We were young and in love and dumb. As the newness of newly wed life and the infatuation that accompanies it wore off, we found that love wasn’t always so sweet and happiness didn’t come easily. I didn’t particularly “love” that my husband artfully draped his clothing around our bedroom instead of putting it in the laundry hamper. He wasn’t very “happy” that I only washed what was actually IN the hamper and he had no clean socks. There were days and sometimes weeks when I wondered WHY I had decided to marry this man. We lived in a one bedroom apartment. He wanted to do EVERYTHING together. I craved my alone time. We struggled. I wasn’t miserable, but I wouldn’t describe our life as happy.
It was several years before I discovered the “secret” to true happiness. It wasn’t really that difficult either. I just had to decide to be happy in whatever situation we were in at that moment. I had to give up my expectations that anyone could make me happy. I learned that there were things that I had to sacrifice in order to build our marriage together. Instead of being irritated because I wanted to be alone, I was glad to have a husband who wanted to spend time with me and our children. I made it a point to seek out the reasons to be truly happy and content. When I decided to choose my marriage over my personal agenda, the change in our lives and our relationship was amazing. As much as I loved my husband, he would never be everything that I thought I needed. And, he was powerless to provide the happiness I sought.
When my husband died in 2005, I was confronted with such deep sadness. I didn’t think I would ever know love or happiness again in my lifetime. I was wrong. Even in the immense sadness of those years, I found moments of happiness. I became more intent on seeking out reasons to be happy and celebrate the moments. My children and I laughed at memories and tried new things. I learned that there can be great joy in the midst of deep sorrows. I once again decided that I would be happy even if I never loved another man. Some days were easier than others.
I married my second husband a little over 3 years ago. Our path to each other wasn’t easy. We both had struggles along the way. We both loved and lost. We came into this marriage with scars and (I hope) a little wiser. We know that every successful relationship requires compromises (aka personal sacrifice). He can never make me happy. He doesn’t have that power. We can offer each other experiences that bring happiness. But, ultimately, happiness is a personal decision. I love him deeply and passionately. The joy of our relationship is a blessing every day. There are still struggles. Every morning, I make the decision to choose my spouse over my self. I choose happiness whenever I see the opportunity.
My advice to the young and in love (or those wanting to be in love)? Find happiness within yourself FIRST. Then, and only then, will you be ready to tackle a lasting relationship. Infatuation will not bring lasting happiness. Identify that things that you “love” about the other person. (And don’t fall into the trap of saying he/she “Just makes me happy.”) I married my best friend. I trust him completely. We talk about everything. We have fun together. I know that he looks out for my best interests. Together, we find contentment that may not look too exciting, but it sure offers us many opportunities to decide to be happy.
“Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.” Ephesians 5:22-28 msg
When Aretha Franklin recorded this Otis Redding Song, she
declared she was a strong & confidant woman who has everything a man could
want. She demands his respect. But, what is RESPECT?
I ask the question because we don’t seem to understand the term in this day and age. Respect is given to a person we admire, to a position of authority or honor, or to a boundary that denotes space or possession. Respect can be defined in several ways and the definition in which I am most interested is:
“to consider worthy of high regard” syn: admire, appreciate, consider, esteem, regard
Throughout my life, I have known people that I personally had difficulty respecting. Due to personal or work ethics, I did not respect anything about them. I could however, respect their position of authority. It was easy to complain and whine about the how unworthy these persons were. It often proved to be very difficult to give respect to the position they held. But, I knew it was necessary for me to do just that. In a business setting, I could force myself to give at least a token respect since my job quite literally could depend upon it. Unfortunately, I think it can be particularly difficult to respect a position or a stand, when the offense is from a member of our family or the Church.
Philippians 2: 1-8 (MSG) says
“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.”
If Christ was able to put aside his own status and take on
the status of a slave, then shouldn’t I be able to offer grace to those people
that just drive me nuts? Christ knew
that Judas would betray Him. Yet, He
still included Judas within the twelve.
He still showed love and compassion to His betrayer. Is
there anything in my world that excuses me from giving that same love and
compassion and even respect to others in some form?
Respect is almost a foreign concept in our world where “self”
is the most important part of life. We
You deserve to
happy. Don’t waste your life. Chase happiness.
The harder you work, the
more you will get, and the happier you will be.
It’s a dog eat dog
world. Grab what you can before it’s
Whoever has the most “stuff”
When I, ME, and MINE are the most used
terms in my vocabulary, esteem of others is impossible. If I refuse to take responsibility when I
hurt or offend another person, I show just how much I respect them. When I gossip, complain or talk about friends
or family to others, I lose the respect and trust of the very people I am
attempting to impress.
There are lots of areas where disagreement is not only
possible but encouraged. We see that
evidenced in all areas of politics. And
I’m using the term “politics” quite broadly.
Aside from the government, politics encompasses the total complex of relations between people living in society. We see politics in our family and business relations. We have seen the politics of the Church
evidenced from the time of the Pharisees all the way through the various
denomination squabbles of today.
We can have disagreements. We can have convictions. But, ultimately, we have to find a way to be “deep-spirited”: especially within the Church. In my younger days, I had no patience with
anyone that didn’t follow the letter of the law. I was a self appointed judge and jury who practiced
religion. And no matter how meticulous I
was, my actions were worthless because my motives and actions were not based upon
the grace that I myself had been given. There
are areas that are not up for debate, but that doesn’t mean that I have the
right to run roughshod and force-feed my convictions to others. As I matured, I realized the need for
tenderness. I found that allowing a
person grace and compassion was much more effective in guiding them to the
truth. And, along the way, I discovered
that some of my “laws” were really based on religion not faith. Respect doesn’t mean I have to agree with
you. I don’t even have to approve of you
or your actions. But, I do need to respect
the person that God has lovingly created.
That’s a hard pill for this controlling person to swallow
at times. I’m still learning. I’m still trusting. I pray that I’m T-C-B: Taking Care of Business.