The Best Christmas Gift for Your Marriage

My husband entered the room one day last week and asked me this question:

“You like camo, right?”

In my mind I’m thinking,

“Hmm. That’s weird.”

And then I realize, it’s Christmas.

“I like camo, army camo, not leafy camo. No hunting camo. That’s your thing, not mine. And no camo with pink on it. That’s weird. I don’t really like color infiltrating the camo at all, maybe grey or black.”

“What about brown and camo? You like brown and camo, right?

Oh boy. I have to answer this question carefully. He has a little boy hopefulness going on and I have mixed emotions about brown and camo.

“Well, it could be cool. I’d have to see. Do you remember that camo shirt I showed you downtown last week? I like that camo.”

“Ok, good. Yes. Alright.”

Dave leaves the room, while I chuckle over my mug of tea. He’s just the cutest and I love being thought of when I don’t even know it.

There was a time when every year it was an epic decision for us whether we would buy gifts for each other. Pennies were tight, furniture was thread bare, and student loans demanded attention.

But guess what?

Pennies are still tight. Money still needs to be managed. Teenagers eat a lot of food or they die, I’m told. Coats handed down from one kid to the thirteenth at some point wear out, to my chagrin. And all the while my marriage is still there, still constant, still hollering for some attention.

Through changing seasons, locations, and attitudes, I still believe this to be true:

It’s better for your marriage to give your spouse a Christmas gift.

It’s better for your children when you give your spouse a Christmas gift.

Why? I wrote that article for the Concordia Publishing House blog. 😉 Find it here:

The Best Christmas Gift for Your Marriage

Gifts won’t solve marriage problems or wave a magic wand over the way your kids view relationships, but they are a place where I think we often ignore our marriages for other things; a place we gloss over as unimportant.

I also know I could give Biblical evidence for caring for your marriage, psychosocial evidence for what it does for your kids’ future marriages, and all that good stuff, but I can’t make money grow on trees and there’s no rules about how to best care for your marriage. So, you’ll also find some practical ideas for making your spouse feel included and thought of this Christmas season, even on the cheap.

You can hear all about my thoughts in this I Love My Shepherd Podcast Episode:

Please share some ideas of your own for others!

How have you gifted and included your spouse at Christmastime?

Conversation, Jesus, and Vulnerable Enough to Be Wrong

I could sit and talk with my husband about Jesus, grace, or the struggles of life for hours.

Do you have anyone like that in your life?

I think we all need at least one person we can spontaneously talk to about Scripture, about life.

Not to get all the theology right. Not with an agenda. Not to fill in our Bible study books, but to just talk.

I do love that my husband can answer my questions, find me good resources, and correct my rash heretical moments. Don’t get me wrong, being married to a pastor has its perks.

I love him more though, because he is safe.

I love him because he loves Jesus.

I love him because he listens and shares and dreams and puts a manly spin on the world that I would miss otherwise. I love him because he is vulnerable enough not to know it all, but desires to go deeper and learn more, every time.

It’s important to have places and people in our life we can be wrong with. We need people to wander around conversation with. People who can point out our issues, not because they want to be right, rather because you’re having a discussion and that’s what discussion looks like – a volley, a banter, an opening of minds and hearts.

The best part about doing this around the Bible is that the Bible is always right! The Bible holds Truth in Love in perfection, so we have somewhere to go to figure this life out…together.

What would life look like without genuine discussion?

Boring.

Sad.

Ranting.

Unsafe.

Really, many, many spaces and places we find ourselves today.

So, Dave and I invite you into our Scripture conversation in two short and thought-provoking episodes connected to the I Love My Shepherd and Grafted Heart Advent series –

Above All Names

Check out the two episodes below –

Above All Names: Old Testament

Above All Names: New Testament

Here are all the links you need for the Advent series:

Above All Names Advent Devotion PDF
Above All Names Printable Images
Above All Names Advent Reading and Writing Plan

Remember, all the devos and podcasts can be found right here on ilovemyshepherd.com and graftedheart.com each day of Advent! Subscribe to the blog to get them in your inbox each day. The Podcast can be found on the Podcast Page, iTunes, or Stitcher as they are released.

Who can you be vulnerable with enough to be wrong sometimes, to have real and meaningful discussion, to share a moment of safety in a crazy unsafe world?

You can’t do everything

I found some wisdom recently…

You can’t do everything.

This seems to be a recurring theme in my life actually.

I wrote this post a couple years ago when my husband told me I didn’t need to use all my gifts at once. Ha!

You see, there are so many good ideas and worthwhile ventures in this short life. Couple that with the urgency of the Gospel, and you can easily end up with a ball of busyness.

I’m learning with time that I can’t, in fact, do everything.

The Mary and Martha story of Luke 10 has always felt like a thorn in the flesh to me. Yes, Dearest Lord Jesus, I know I need to rest in You, but I really, really like to try and do it all. 😉

My attitude about it changed with these words from a wise speaker at a long ago women’s retreat…

“Mary gave up something good…for something better.”

It’s not that serving and creating and doing aren’t good, it’s that they aren’t better. I need to lay some things down so that I can put my whole heart into Christ, and to what He has given me to do, and do it well.

Maybe that’s a twisting of the story a little bit, because the focus of the passage in Luke 10:38-42 is really on resting in the Lord, but I think it applies more broadly. Anytime I chase trying to do more than I know I’m intended, when resting ceases, and anxiety presses in, when I ignore that still small voice, I’m missing something the Lord is trying to offer me – His comfort, His peace, His control for this day.

So in order to concentrate on the Better, I’m going to give up the good. I’ve realized I need to give up a lot of good things, so that I can focus on writing, at least for a time. Yes, I want to do everything at church. Yes, I want to be the involved mom at my kid’s school. Yes, I want to…fill in the blank…but I can’t do it all.

Giving up the good for the better, will allow me to continue producing more I Love My Shepherd print studies, like

He Calls Me Loved: A Study of Isaiah (coming June 2018)

Good Gifts: A Study of James (coming 2019)

Chasing Freedom: A Study of Galatians (release date TBD)

I am also working on streamable and downloadable video and audio segments for all the studies, as well as downloadable retreat formats for each study.

Plus…podcasts, articles, and resources about ministry life, mental health, family life, and all the good stuff you would expect from I Love My Shepherd…only Better. 😉

What is good in your life? Take a minute to thank God for all the good things He is doing through you and around you? Share them with me in the comments. I would love to hear what He is doing in and through you!

 

Are there any of those good things that can go? Those things that are good, but aren’t Better? Any one thing even that could leave more time for resting in the Word, for spending more time in genuine relationships, or for putting energy into doing something God has called you to with your whole heart?

Thank you for all your support, readers! You give me more encouragement than you can imagine.

Setting aside the good, for the Better.