Archive for the ‘No-Fail Gifts of Love’ Category

“[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  (I Corinthians 13:7)

Loyalty is one of those rare gifts of love that we commit to give our nearest and dearest yet sometimes forget to give when it most matters.

It is easy to be loyal when all is sweet and easy in a relationship and things just seem to flow.  But when the rocky times hit a marriage, or when life gets complicated with teenage kids, that is when a commitment to loyalty is most needed in a relationship.  What are some ways we can give the gift of loyalty?

Protect – Guard their reputation just as you would your own.  Loyalty means you will always “have their back” even in the difficult seasons of your relationship.

Trust – People who place a premium on loyalty are also people who trust even when they don’t have all the information or don’t necessarily agree with a situation.  Yes, we are vulnerable when we trust and we risk being burned.  But it is worth the risk!   Loyalty moves you to trust your loved one’s motives, their heart, their goals, their honesty, their love for you.  The alternative, mistrust, is the sure road to future relationship disaster so there is a lot riding on this quality.

Hope – This is a loaded word!  It requires acknowledging my own limits and it requires having faith in something outside of myself.  But when others give up on my loved one, loyalty dictates that I choose hope.  Hope is a spiritual quality founded on the character of the One who is able to bring about good from evil and Who absolutely delights in Redemption and second chances.  Hope  is founded on the Lord God and His power.  Ask Him to help you have hope!

Persevere – Not only does a loyal person not give up on someone, they also move forward with their loved ones.  For example, in a marriage, persevering love drives a woman to not just “stay together for the kids sake” but to actually work towards a better marriage with counseling, with books, with prayer, with action.  Or with a teenager, persevering love might motivate a mom to speak gentle words of encouragement though the child may not register an outward response.  That is loyal love!

“[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  (I Corinthians 13:7)

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“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” (I Corinthians 13:6)

I read this verse and it causes me to pause. Not delighting in evil?  Rejoicing with truth?  What is God trying to tell me here? How do those phrases fit in conversations about love? And then it hits me…love is meant to be pure, not finding joy in what is wrong but finding joy in what is right!  Pure love is beautiful and hopeful and life-giving and refuses to get soiled in the mud of what real life can look like here on earth.  But this is not always easy in the moment!  Take a look at the following scenarios from real women in real life and think about how you might respond:

~You hear juicy (and possibly true) gossip about a difficult co-worker of your husbands… and he walks in the door frustrated with this same person.

~The coach your husband and you feel has been “unfair” to your child all season is struggling and needs help you alone can offer… if you are willing.

~You get in a huge fight with your husband about who has the missing receipt from dinner…and you find it in your purse later.

~Your husband brings up some issues he believes you need to work on…it hits a nerve because you know deep down he is right.

With each of these real life scenarios we have a choice.  We can go down two very different paths and how we respond will have a direct impact and influence on the ones we love.

I want to give the gift of a pure heart.  I want to choose to respond with a pure heart, turning my back on the nasty (yet easy) response and embracing truth.  That is never easy in the moment, but then, no one ever said love was easy.  It just doesn’t fail!  (I Cor. 13:8)

The gift of a pure heart requires a plan of action!  I need to:

~resolve with the Lord’s strength to take the high road of purity.  “Create in me a pure heart, Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10

~be intentional to rejoice in the good, regardless of whether it involves a friend or a foe.

~commit to not delighting (smiling, giggling, or belly laughing) at circumstances that are wrong and that can lead my loved ones down the wrong path themselves.

We can give the gift of a pure heart to those we love as we respond to them and to the circumstances around us with purity.

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“[Love] is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (I Corinthians 13:5)

Love forgives!

This week we have been looking at no-fail gifts to give our nearest and dearest.  Forgiveness is a gift of love that paves the way for sweet relationships that last and flourish.  But the gift of forgiveness is not simply a gift for others.  It is also a healing balm for our own heart, mind, body and soul.  There is no one more miserable than the person carrying the burden of unforgiveness.  The more time goes by the worse the burden gets and in the end unforgiveness will affects every area of our lives.

Definitions of forgiveness in the dictionery say this:  “to grant pardon for” and “cease to resent.”  That sounds really good, but practically, how do we go about “ceasing to resent” and move in to “granting pardon?” It can be very easy to push little hurts to the side, allowing bitterness to grow deep down in our hearts and never get to the place of forgiveness.  To help with this, I like to stop every once in awhile and ask myself these questions about my relationships:

1.  What is going well?
2.  What needs improvement?
3.  Where and with whom do I need to circle back and forgive?
4.  Am I being open when/if someone circles back to me and asks for forgiveness?
I always like to “seal” conversations with prayer and ask our Heavenly Father to work all things together for His good as only he can.  He is faithful and He will! Be encouraged!
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

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“[Love] …does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking…” (I Corinthians 13:4,5)

What’s going to work? Teamwork!  What’s going to work? Teamwork! I often hear my little son sing that song as we work on something together.  He loves to work alongside me and see that we’ve accomplished something.  How often I withhold that gift from my marriage in thinking I can do it all myself…some sort of Wonder Woman complex.

This year I aim to give my husband the gift of teamwork, working alongside him, being the help-meet God created me to be to him.  (Genesis 2:18)
I will give him the gift of:

  • making time to be together.  It does take real teamwork to get those schedules coordinated so that I can be with my husband alone.
  • crossing things off the list.  Often I make a list of things for my man to do and that is it.  I let the list hang there until it’s all accomplished, not thinking of how he already spent his days working hard to support me.  I am not going to merely make the list, I am going to work WITH him to get them done.  His time is just as valuable as mine.
  • making life about us.  I am selfish.  I know this more now that I have been married for years.  I actually knew it on our honeymoon.  I am going to give him the gift of thinking of him before myself as it says in Phillipians. Consider others before yourself.   What would we like to do tonight?  What would taking on that new commitment do to us?
  • praise.  All good teams, and even some not so good ones, have cheerleaders. I am going to be my husband’s cheerleader.  Praise him for the things that he does for us.  Praise him for the hard worker that he is.  Give him the respect that he needs and deserves.
  • praying together.  This is the most important part of the teamwork-gift I am giving.  To be of one mind spiritually.  To find intimacy with God and each other creating a bond that cannot be broken easily.

Love your husband.  Be on his team.  Working together to accomplish the goal of a good marriage is a priceless gift.

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“Love is patient and love is kind.”  (I Corinthians 13:4 )

What kind of Valentine does the love of your life really want?  No matter what his hobbies or his age, there is one gift that he really wants from you…the gift of nice.

The irony is we are least likely to give this gift to those we are closest to.  We are nice to the barista at the coffee shop.  We are nice to our clients.  We are nice to the neighbors.  But how do we go about giving the gift of nice to our loved ones?   The options are endless but here are three ideas to get you started on the gift of nice today:
~ What is your loved one’s least favorite chore?  Is it ironing shirts?  Is it emptying the dishwasher?  Be nice and do that job for them without complaining, and then make a little card and tell him why you did it.  An act of kindness will mean way more to him than a new tie to hang in the closet.
~Kind words are always nice! Think of several things you respect or appreciate in your loved one.  Write the list out on a piece of stationary and mail it to your loved one the old-fashioned way, through the post office.  For the price of a stamp and a little bit of your time, this gift of nice will make their day a little brighter.
~Patient people are nice people…whether it is listening to your loved one “vent” without interruptions or whether it is calmly and willingly picking the towel off the floor…again…give the gift of patience to your loved ones this week.  Patience may be the hardest “gift of nice” to give to those who we feel most secure with, but it could also be the most valuable for our relationship.
In Galations 5:22, kindness and patience are listed as fruit of the Spirit.  As believers, through the power of God, we are enabled to give the gift of nice to those around us.  Let’s give the gift of nice starting today and see if it isn’t one of their favorite gifts ever!

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