One more BEST gift to give your spouse this season (part two).

A couple weeks ago, I shared with you HERE about the first of two of the best gifts you can give your spouse. Read more here!

It’s only a matter of days before Christmas is here. Have you gotten something for your spouse? Have you been able to figure what is the “perfect” gift for them? If not, you have come the right place! I have the perfect gift idea for you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a wife or a husband that you are gifting. It doesn’t matter if they are the pickiest person on the planet. It doesn’t even matter if you are not a big fan of your spouse right now. With this gift, one size fits all.

So, drum roll, please. Brrrr…..Brrrr….Brrrr….. (does that sound like drum roll to you??)

The best gift you can give your spouse (other than the one I mentioned in THIS blog post) is:

Time.

Give your time.

Yes, you heard me right. One of the best gifts you can give your spouse is your time.

One of the best ways to see what your priorities are is to look at your calendar. What is taking up most of your time? I know, you are going to tell me “well, duh, work…but I have to work.” Yes, a bulk of your time is work. And another bulk of your time is sleep. But what about that time in between. How are you spending that time?

You may “see” your spouse during that margin time…but do you intentionally spend quality time putting them first in your life? (Just being in the same room with your spouse while you make lunches for the kids or figure out the monthly budget doesn’t count). I am talking about time that you set aside to focus solely on your spouse….fulfilling a need of theirs, planning a special outing with them, going out of your way to show them (not just tell them) how much you love and appreciate them.

What does time quality time look like? And how do you gift it?

That is going to be different for everyone. And please do not give me the excuse that you don’t have the money for a babysitter or you don’t have time in your schedule for a regular date night or you couldn’t possibly go out of town for a night because the kids…or the job…or your dog need you and only you. Stop that. You are married. To someone that you really love. Someone that, when you first met them, you couldn’t bear to be apart from.

If you want something to happen, you will make it happen. Swap date night babysitting with another couple. Go for a walk on the beach or a hike in the woods instead of a pricey dinner out. Sit on the back porch with a favorite board game. (Ladies, there are a million cheap date ideas on Pinterest…go nuts!)

Sure,that honeymoon phase may be over, so to speak. But only because you choose it to be so. We all have a choice to put time and effort into our marriages in order to keep that spark going…in order to “keep that love alive.”

In order to stay fully connected to your spouse, you need TIME.

Not fancy gifts. Not a family vacation. Not even a double date with another couple. Quality time for just the two of you.

How do you give that as a gift?

How does “time” get wrapped up and placed under the Christmas tree?

One of Steve’s favorite gifts I have given him is a book of handmade coupons for all different kinds of quality time…things that are meaningful to us and things we enjoy doing together. All throughout the year, he could just hand me a coupon and I would do my best to make it happen as quickly as possible. Important: it included many things that he loves and I could take or leave. It was a sacrificial book of coupons for quality time. (Example: I am not a fan of going to movie theaters, but Steve is, so “going out to a movie” was a coupon.)

If you want to be a bit more extravagant, maybe you can plan and reserve a full day together, doing things that your spouse loves or both of you love. Or plan to visit the place you first met. Or get everything you need to work on a special project together.

If you are really craving dedicated time alone, plan a vacation or even one night away at a place that your spouse loves. And then go a step further and plan out details of your time that are focused on your spouses needs and desires.

If you tend to “wonder where the time went” on a regular basis, may I recommend that you set up several date days or nights in advance, including reserving a table or buying the tickets, so you are accountable to and committed to making that quality time happen.

If you still want to get your spouse the newest gadget or dazzling jewelry, consider attaching TIME to it. So, if you got your husband the latest runner’s watch, perhaps you could plan to run with him once a week. Or if you purchased that special pair of earrings for your wife, possibly you could plan a surprise dinner out with an outfit picked out for her to wear, including the earrings.

There are endless possibilities for you to give time.

You just need to make the choice to give it. If you genuinely have no idea how your spouse would want to spend time with you, ask. Seriously, just ask. Even the act of asking is sacrificial and loving. It’s a great start to connecting with your spouse this season.

We are praying that there will be a whole lotta time wrapped up under the tree this year!!

Merry Christmas!

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The best gift to give your spouse this year! (Part 1)

I spent several of the early years of our marriage a prideful, arrogant, self-centered person. What does this have to do with gifts, you ask? Well, in that selfishness, I had very strong opinions of how gift-giving needed to occur in our house. I made it very clear that I wanted us to give each other surprise gifts for birthdays and holidays. My rational behind that…I believed that we should know each other well enough to pick out the perfect gift without the other person telling what they wanted. Yep, that was me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love surprises and I am blessed with a husband who enjoys surprising me. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to be genuinely surprised. But I set an expectation–an unrealistically high expectation–that ultimately set us both up for failure.

But I set up an expectation—an unrealistically high expectation—that ultimately set us both up for failure.

So, every year, we were trying to outdo the last year. Or if we really bombed a gift (for example, the seven-person tent with pet cabin that I received for my birthday when he was the only one complaining about the current tent we used…just sayin’), then we were working overtime to try to make up for it at the following holiday. So, pressure. LOTS OF PRESSURE. At a time that we were supposed to be celebrating. What a drag.

I also set the stipulation that I never wanted to just get a gift for both of us. So, if we both really wanted a new camera but it’s pricey and we can only afford to get it if we forego giving each other individual gifts? No way! I was not willing to “change the rules.” So, no camera….and instead something that has a 50/50 shot of being “just what I wanted.”

What changed?

What caused me to change the rules, so to speak? Well, when our marriage started to get rocky, I read The Five Love Languages. (If you haven’t read this book, please click on the link and get it!).

When I took the test to find out what my “love language” was, it came out as GIFTS. At first I was like, duh, of course it is. But as I continued to read and really think about it, I realized that our current circumstances were actually skewing the results of my test.

Hear me out. I realized that the only way I was experiencing “love” from Steve was when he gave me gifts. At the time, things were rough, and so the gifts–for a short amount of time–made up for the things that were missing in our marriage.

Then I had to go back a bit further…into my childhood. LONG story short, the only “love” that I received from my biological father was gifts. So, as an adult, I was placing an extremely HIGH VALUE on gifts because they represented love when actual love was nowhere to be found.

Bring it home, Lisa….what does your personal childhood journey have to do with a gift for my spouse? What is this BEST GIFT I can give to my spouse??

The best gift you can give your spouse is:

LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

If you have a spouse who cares for you and loves you and provides for your needs, you are so loved and THAT is a huge gift. Stop setting standards that they cannot ever reach. Use your heart of gratitude (that you hopefully cultivated during last month’s “attitude of gratitude”) and be grateful for the little things. Be grateful for the moments. Be grateful for all of it. Even the 7-person tent with pet cabin. Because your spouse spent time to pick that up JUST FOR YOU. It IS truly the thought that counts. And if you have a hard time lowering those expectations…then MAKE THEM KNOWN. Don’t be like me in those early years, and expect them to guess what you want or need. Just tell them. (I am especially speaking to you, ladies!).

Don’t be like me in those early years and expect them to guess what you want or need.

And if you are looking to those gifts as the only way you experience love from your spouse, you may want to spend some time in prayer contemplating why that is. Because you may be putting a lot of weight on those gifts because something else–something important–is missing from your relationship. In that case, a diamond necklace or fancy tv will not solve it. Get to the root of that. (Check out Five Love Languages or Rescue Your Love Life)

During this Christmas season, when we are inundated with marketing tactics advertising the “next best gift,” resist the urge to EXPECT that perfect gift. Instead, lower those expectations and focus on more important things….like the Messiah whose birth we celebrate and the wonderful spouse He gave you.

In Everything?

In everything, give thanks.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

In everything?

Really?  In Ev-er-y-thing?  In everything, we should give thanks?  You know you have asked that question.  Especially at this time of year, as we are about the celebrate Thanksgiving, we see this verse…and we probably think to ourselves…well, not EVERYthing.

I mean, how can I be thankful for natural disaster? For death? For illness?  For depression? For loss of a job or home? For my overbearing boss?  For my annoying sister? For my spouse’s annoying habits? For MOSQUITOS?!

The Bible clearly says, IN EVERYTHING.  Sigh.

Check out a portion of an article* from Bible.org about this verse and those surrounding it….

This command means that in every situation we are to give thanks to our sovereign and good God and Savior. In Ephesians 5:20, Paul puts it, “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” Giving thanks in every situation does not mean that we must be happy with every situation or resigned to accept matters without praying and working for change.

Also, we don’t need to feel thankful before we give thanks. When God takes us through hard trials, we don’t feel thankful. But by faith we can say, “Lord, I trust that You are good and that You know what You’re doing in this difficult situation. I submit to Your sovereign hand and purpose, knowing that You will work it together for my good.” So, like rejoicing always, giving thanks in everything is often a choice to believe God in difficult circumstances.

When we are connected to God and trusting Him and His plan for our lives, we are able to have gratitude in all circumstances.  (Read more about my “attitude of gratitude!”)

So many times this past year, I have looked at a difficult circumstance and saw a situation devoid of anything worthy of being thankful for.  My humanness, my flesh, my sinful nature could not see past the weight of the circumstance.

Then the Holy Spirit intervened.  Gratitude began to replace fear…or hurt…or dismay.

God is above all circumstance in life.  God knows.  He sees what we are facing.  And He knows the outcome.  These truths alone are things we can easily be grateful for!!

We have a God who loves us, knows what we face, will protect us, and ultimately has ALREADY saved us from the worst.

When we believe in the saving grace of Jesus and His defeat over the grave, we can be grateful IN EVERYTHING!

Not FOR everything.  (We don’t really need to be grateful for the mosquitos, ok?)  But, as believers, we can be grateful IN this life, even in the darkest moments of this life.

Our challenge is to truly have a heart of gratitude in those difficult moments.  It’s easy to be thankful when things are going well.  It’s so challenging to be thankful when they aren’t.

Guess what?  When we are able to grow our gratitude, we change the way we view those moments.  A heart filled with gratitude doesn’t have room for fear, anger, and resentment.  Rather, it opens us up for things like joy, peace, patience, forgiveness and mercy.

“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.”

In this life, I don’t think God expects us to be grateful FOR everything…..but He does ask that we be grateful IN everything.  And because of His love for us, we are able to do just that.

In everything, give thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

www.sidebysideministry.org

*Read more on this subject through the link below.

https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-20-three-impossible-commands-1-thessalonians-516-18

Attitude of Gratitude?

Is it really November already?

Is it already time for the busy holiday season?  I don’t know about you, but when November rolls around, I sometimes feel like a bull in the ring, blowing smoke out of my nostrils, and kicking up dust….readying myself to bust through the next two months of gatherings, events, shopping, and doing, doing, doing.

Even just writing that, I am exhausted.  I would venture to say that many of us feel this way, if we are honest with ourselves.  There are even songs written about the craziness of the holiday season.

It’s not shocking that our attitude would be like that of the bull, ready to charge!

Let’s look at the two main holidays that we are about to celebrate.  Thanksgiving.  A holiday where we gather with family and friends to show our thankfulness for the bounty that has been given.  A time to take stock, so to speak, on the blessings we have received, not only as children of God, but as citizens of a free nation.  A time to show those around us that we love them…by sitting shoulder to shoulder watching a sporting event, or chatting over pumpkin pie.

And then Christmas.  A holiday that has been taken over by commercialism, but is meant to be the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  A time to love God and thank Him for sending the Messiah as a babe, to one day save each and every one of us from our sins and bring us to be with Him in eternity.

In the next two months, we have been given the gift of time to worship God and love His people.

We can be grateful for that gift.

Are we? Coming into the “holiday season,” do we have an attitude of gratitude?  Or are we getting ready to charge through it HEAD FIRST (not HEART first!) so we can just “make it through?”  Be honest with yourself.

In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is.  This is his reply…

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

We have been given an opportunity to:

  1. Love God.
  2. Love our neighbor.

In the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are being handed a platform in order to do the greatest of the commandments!  What a gift! But do we have an attitude of gratitude?  I’ll go first….I don’t!  I can sometimes go into this season with a dread of what is to come.  And that mindset-that dread-will color all the things I do and all the encounters I have.  What a shame.

I don’t want to do that this year.  I want to change my attitude!

I want an attitude of gratitude!

I want to be grateful for the time that I have been given to do God’s will….to love Him and His people.  I want to truly worship Him for what He has done in my life.  I want to wake up in the morning with a grateful heart and a yearning to love the people around me, even and especially the ones who are so very unlovable!

Will you join me?

Let’s do this!  Let’s enter this holiday season with an attitude of gratitude!

In the comments below or on our Facebook or Instagram page, share with us how you will make that shift in your attitude.  Let’s help each other…spur each other on, encourage each other to have an attitude of gratitude this season.

www.sidebysideministry.org