Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Friends and Lovers

"It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages." Friedrich Nietzsche

So often, when people marry, they rely on their feelings of "love", which are more likely feelings of infatuation. Unfortunately, those feelings are usually fleeting in nature. They don't last, because they are based on physical attraction, or perceived ideas of who someone is.

The most successful, happy marriages I have observed, have not been marriages that were without conflict or trials (is there such a marriage?), but ones in which the husband and wife are not only lovers, but friends. A man longs for a companion. Someone who will do things with him, and spend time with him. While women can get so much out of relationship by sitting and talking for hours, men tend to relate while *doing*.

I have often noticed this when our family gets together with other families. The women tend to sit and talk, and while the men will sit and talk, they have a much better time, and feel like they've related better if they are doing something ~ whether it's playing paint ball, working on a vehicle, reloading ammunition, or working on the house one family is currently building. So, doesn't it make sense for a wife to take an active interest in the things her husband enjoys, and learn not only to do them, but to enjoy it as well?

Sometimes we don't have to actually participate, but if we are willing to be there, and are genuinely interested in what they are doing, it has the same effect. I'm thinking of football. My Beloved loves football. I never have. I am becoming more interested and more knowledgeable, sadly not because my Beloved loves it so, but because our sons are playing now. The added benefit is that I am taking an active interest in something he loves. I am not very knowledgeable! LOL But, he knows that I want to learn, and I am willing to ask a lot of "stupid" questions, and so I am learning.

At my age and after the number of children I have birthed, there is not much of a chance of *me* playing football! :-) But, I can take an interest. I can listen attentively when they (my Beloved and my boys) talk about football. I can go to the games and be supportive of our sons, and of my darling, since he is coaching. I can be observant and make comments or suggestions, or even ask questions that let him know that I am paying attention and I care.

There are many ways that we can cultivate our friendship with our husband. My Beloved and I are best friends. If you don't feel like you are with your husband, think about some of the ways you cultivate friendships with others. Not the specific "things" you do, but the principle behind them. Like time spent together, interest in the other person, etc.

If you do believe that you have a great friendship with your beloved, I would love to hear how you cultivate that. What are some of the things that you do and enjoy together?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Song of Solomon Devotion #3

HE- If you do not know, O most beautiful among women, follow in the tracks of the flock, and pasture your young goats beside the shepherds’ tents. I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots. Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels…Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves. Song of Solomon 1:8-10, 15

HE- Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost its young. Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like halves of pomegranate behind your veil. Your neck is like the tower of David, built in rows of stones, on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that graze among the lilies. Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, I will go away to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense. You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Solomon 4:1-7

In our last devotion, we talked about the flaws we see in our bodies when we look in the mirror. We also talked about what our husband sees. Remember, that when your beloved looks at you, he is seeing your entire person, not just your physical body. Once again, we look to Solomon and his bride as an example. In the two passages we are looking at now, we see Solomon complimenting the beauty of his bride. Now, we look at his descriptions today, and don’t think they are very complimentary, but in Solomon’s day, it was high praise indeed! He starts at her eyes and works his way down. And how does the Shulamite respond to the compliments of her lover? When we go to scripture, and look at the Song, we find that she responds by talking about Solomon. She talks about how she responds to him and how lovely she finds his body.

I know that often, when my beloved compliments me, my response is, “Don’t have your glasses on, do you?” But, do I have a right to answer him in this way? Even though I think that my thoughts and response are based in me, are they really? Am I being respectful of my husband if, in answering a compliment I basically call him a liar? What right do I have to not believe him? If he tells me how lovely he finds me, why do I feel the need to tell him he’s wrong?

This is an area we need to follow the Shulamite’s example. When Solomon compliments her, what does she do? As we have already observed, she turns the compliment on him.We need to get to a point where we can either say a simple ‘thank you’, or where we can, in turn, compliment our husband.

For example: You’re doing dishes and your husband walks up behind you, puts his arms around your waist and says, “You get more beautiful every year, honey.” You can either respond with something like, “Yeah, and what is it that you want?” OR you could lean back against him, or turn around and put your arms around his neck and say, “It must be because you’re such a good, loving husband.”

Which response is going to make your husband feel more loved and respected? Which response is more honoring? Which response is going to encourage intimacy and communication? We should not think that we can continually rebuff our husband’s compliments,and then expect him to act in a loving way toward us. We need to realize that an unwillingness to accept our husband’s compliments and the need to tell him he’s wrong when he compliments us are rooted in an attitude of disrespect toward him. If you are guilty of this, then go to your beloved and confess, and ask for his forgiveness.


Father God, I thank You for a husband who sees beauty when he looks at me. Thank You, Father, for his willingness to tell me how beautiful he thinks I am. I confess, Father, an attitude of disrespect toward my husband, and ask for Your forgiveness. Father, enable me to honor my husband by either saying “thank you” or by being able to genuinely return a compliment. I pray Father, that You would draw us closer to each other and to You as I strive to change my attitudes.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Romantic or Fun! Anniversary Ideas

Since we just celebrated our anniversary, I thought it would be fun to share some ideas of how we have celebrated over the years. I have been asked in the past, by young marrieds short on funds how we have made our anniversary celebrations special. Since often we have not had much money, some of my ideas are inexpensive! Other years, there has been a little extra, so some of my ideas reflect that as well. I would love to hear how others have creatively, romantically spent their anniversaries.

  • An evening out with Scottish food (also known as McDonalds! :-D)
  • A couple of good cuts of steak, BBQ'd, corn on the cob, salad, and homemade strawberry shortcake for dessert (or Huckleberry cheesecake! YUMMY!!)
  • An air mattress out in the back yard ~ to spend time enjoying each other. ;-)
  • A late dessert/tea with the good dishes after the children are in bed
  • A night away at a nice hotel/bed and breakfast
  • An afternoon yard-saling
  • Tea and an afternoon of antiquing (we have done this several years) ~ and I should add, we don't buy, we just enjoy wandering through the various shops, talking as we go
  • A weekend away thrift shopping! (Can you tell I love to shop???)
  • Pizza out (For several years, when we were fairly newlywed, and pretty poor, our "traditional" dinner was Godfather's Pizza)
  • A candlelit evening in our bedroom ~ complete with beverage of choice, romantic music, and yummy dessert

So, there are just a few ideas. What suggestions would you give to a young couple wanting to make their anniversary special? Please share!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Devotion from the Song of Solomon #2

SHE- I am very dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents ofKedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark,because the sun has looked upon me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; theymade me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept. Tell me,you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie downat noon; for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks ofyour companions? Song of Solomon 1:5-7

It is so easy for us, as women, to look in the mirror and see a myriad of faults. There are the stretch marks, the lumps, the bumps. Parts of us that are wider than we would like, or parts that sag more than they used to. Maybe our skin doesn’t look as young and vibrant as it used to, perhaps our hair is a terrible mess ~ and is that gray?!? We see all our faults and physical shortcomings and we don’t want our husband to look upon us. We are sure that he must see every fault we do.

But, when our husband looks at us, he is not just seeing a physical form, he is seeing the total woman; the woman that he loves. My husband and I recently went away for a couple of nights ~ a very rare treat. One of the evenings while we were snuggling, I said to him, “Do you mind my ‘mommy body’?” He looked me straight in the eyes and said emphatically, “Honey, I gave you your ‘mommy body’!” When he looks at my body and sees the stretch marks across my belly and my breasts that aren’t so perky, and my hips that have widened over the years, he thinks of his children that I have carried and nursed. He does not long for the girl he married, he is satisfied with the woman she has become.This does not mean that we can go about our days neglecting to pay attention to ourselves. Because I have many responsibilities as wife and mother, ‘the keeper of the vineyards’, I may tend to neglect my personal care, “my own vineyard Ihave not kept!” (v. 6). So then, what are some ways that we can ‘keep our own vineyard’?

Most important is basic hygiene. Am I clean? Have my teeth been brushed? Then, is my hair done? Depending on hair length and texture, this is more than just running a comb or brush through your hair. This could mean pulling the topknot back and fastening it with a barrette or pony holder, or braiding your hair, or perhaps doing some sort of ‘up-do’. The key is that it is neat looking and out of your way as you go about your day.

Next, how am I dressed? Am I dressed in a feminine, modest manner? Do I look neat and attractive or do I look frumpy? I have come to realize over the years that the way I am dressed and whether or not my hair is done has an impact on how I am feeling. It also affects how my husband sees me.

Finally, and at times not nearly as important, do I have makeup on? This is not something I usually worry about on a daily basis, but during my pregnancy with our seventh child, I felt it was important to have a little makeup on if I was going out of the house at all. Toward the end of that pregnancy, even if I knew that my day would be spent at home, I put on makeup. It helped me to feel and look refreshed, improving how my whole day would go.

Ultimately, when we tend to our own ‘vineyard’, we are showing respect to our husband, which we are commanded to do in Ephesians 5:33b: “and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Of course, we shouldn’t forget to put a smile on. Not a fake, plastic smile, but a smile radiating from the joy that is ours in Christ Jesus.

Father God,
I thank You for giving me a man who thinks I’m the most beautiful woman in the world. I pray Father, that You would enable me to see myself through his eyes and that we would experience deeper intimacy. Make me mindful, Father, of keeping my own vineyard. Open my eyes to areas that I am neglecting and help me see where I can make improvements.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

18 Years of Wedded Bliss ~ Mostly

My Beloved and I recently celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. We had a rare getaway from the children; well, Josiah got to come ~ he's still nursing! I just have to share that I have The Best Husband EVER!!!! You may argue, but I know I am right. We spent the better part of 3 days thrift shopping. We hit about 10 different thrift stores, because my Beloved knows how much I enjoy "The Hunt". He never complained, he never rushed me, he just let me shop to my heart's content. He was, however, slightly disappointed when he found out it wasn't about how many thrift stores we could hit, but about finding good deals. LOL Once we were straight on that, he willingly gave up that little "competitive" thought, and let me go. :-)

I am so thankful to have made it this far. Both being children of divorce, statistics and our society would say that we too, would follow that path. But God.

As I think back over the years of our marriage, I am amazed that we are still married. I have often been, shall we say, difficult to live with; not that my Beloved is always the easiest person to live with! However, when I think about my behavior, I know that had I been married to a lesser man, I would be a divorced Mom. My Beloved has put up with a lot over the years ~ much I am ashamed to even think about. I have never been unfaithful, but I have been nasty- saying hurtful things, I was not an honoring daughter-in-law to his folks, I have gone out of my way to make him miserable because I was miserable. And yet, here we are, 18 years and 8 children later, happily married, more in love than when we said "I do".

Because we love the Lord, we have grown closer together as we have grown closer to Him. We have a desire to be "one" ~ this is more than a physical oneness, but one in purpose, in vision, in belief. Because I desire to be a godly woman, I also desire to be a godly Wife and Mama, which means that I am continually learning to die to self and be servant-hearted toward my Beloved and my children. We have always been best friends, but we have made a concerted effort over the years to know each other more and more intimately, to be interested in things that the other is, to extend grace toward each other when we have misunderstandings or disagreements. Do we have the perfect relationship? Hardly! There are two sinners involved here! But as we mature in our walk of faith, we do better in our relationship with each other.

Our 18 years seem like they just began yesterday, and yet, they also seem like forever ~ isn't that the way all good things should be?

Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with a man who desires to follow You all the day's of his life.