Monday, February 21

Love believes the best

"Love believes all things, hopes all things." -1 Corinthians 13:7

In the deep and private corridors of your heart, there is a room. It's called the Appreciation Room. It's where your thoughts go when you encounter positive and encouraging things about your spouse. And every so often, you enjoy visiting this special place.

On the walls are written kind words and phrases describing the good attributes of your mate. These may include characteristics like "honest" and "intelligent," or phrases like "diligent worker," "wonderful cook," or "beautiful eyes." They are things you've discovered about your husband or wife that have embedded themselves in your memory. Then you think about these things, your appreciation for you spouse begins to increase. In fact, the more time you spend meditating on these positive attributes, the more grateful you are for your mate.

Most things in the Appreciation Room were likely written in the initial stages of your relationship. You could summarize them as things you liked and respected about your loved one. They were true, honorable, and good. And you spent a great deal of time dwelling on them in this room... before you were married. But you may have found that you don't visit this special room as often as you once did. That's because there is another competing room nearby.

Down another dark corridor of your heart lies the Depreciation Room, and unfortunately you visit there as well. On its walls are written the things that bother and irritate you about your spouse. These things were placed there out of frustration, hurt feelings, and the disappointment of unmet expectations.

This room is lined with the weaknesses and failures of your husband or wife. Their bad habits, hurtful words, and poor decisions are written in large letters that cover the walls from one end to the other. If you stay in this room long enough, you get depressed and start expressing things like, "My wife is so selfish," or "My husband can be such a jerk." Or maybe, "I think I married the wrong person."

Some people write very hateful things in this room, where tell-off statements are rehearsed for the next argument. Emotional injuries fester here, adding more scathing remarks to the walls. It's where ammunition is kept for the next big fight and bitterness is allowed to spread like a disease. People fall out of love here.

But know this. Spending time in the Depreciation Room kills marriages. Divorces are plotted in this room and violent plans are schemed. The more time you spend in this place, the more your heart devalues your spouse. It begins the moment you walk in the door, and your care for them lessens with every second that ticks by.

You may say, "But these things are true!" Yes, but so are the things in the Appreciation Room. Everyone fails and has areas that need growth. Everyone has unresolved issues, hurts, and personal baggage. This is a sad aspect of being human. We have all sinned. But we have this unfortunate tendency to downplay our own negative attributes while putting others failures under a magnifying glass.

Let's get down to the real issue here. Love knows about the Depreciation Room and does not live in denial that is exists.

But love chooses not to live there.

You must decide to stop running to this room and lingering there after every frustrating event in your relationship. It does you no good and drains the joy out of your marriage. Love chooses to believe the best about people. It gives them the benefit of the doubt. It refuses to fill in the unknowns with negative assumptions. And when our worst hopes are proven to be true, love makes every effort to deal with them and move forward. As much as possible, love focuses on the positive.

It's time to start thinking differently. It's time to let love lead your thoughts and your focus. The only reason you should glance in the door of the Depreciation Room is to know how to to pray for your spouse. And the only reason you should ever go in this room is to write "COVERED IN LOVE" in huge letters across the walls.

The above is an excerpt from Day 7 in the "The Love Dare." Reading this brought conviction to my heart, not only regarding my thoughts towards my husband, but also towards my brothers and sisters in Christ. Do I assume the best about people? Do I focus on the great things about their personality? Or do I relish hearing a negative tidbit of gossip about a friend? I do not have the ability, nor the responsibility to change others. I am responsible for me. What I am called to do, is to love others with a Christ-like love. If I truly have that agape love, I will believe the best about others. If someone offends me, I will assume that was the absolute last thing they intended. I will give them the benefit of the doubt, just as I'd hope they would do for me.

What a revolutionary way of thinking, huh?

Wednesday, February 16


Which is why I haven't been on to blog in awhile.

God is awesome. Throughout the last 4 months- well, the last 2 1/2 years actually... my faith wavered quite a few times. Initially I was very confident that He had a master plan and would work everything for good. But lately, I had really began to question if God cared where we were... if He was paying attention to the fact that Nick needed another job... if we would EVER find a place of our own to live...

Of course He knew exactly where we were all the time. My patience is so short sometimes and I so easily forget God's faithfulness. I would not blame God one bit for being exasperated with me. A few months ago, Nick looked at me and said, "You know, if I were God, I'd probably hit me over the head and say "What in the world is wrong with you?!?! Don't you get it?? I keep telling you the same things over and over!!!"" I smiled and responded, "Well, do you feel that way towards Benjamin?" Nick smiled back and answered, "You're right! I never feel like smacking him and giving up on him! I still just want to love on him and encourage him that he'll eventually 'get it'."

We're just human- and yet we have so much love and compassion for OUR children... can you imagine how much more God feels that way towards us? His patience is incredible.

Basically what's happened is: God has restored our house and Nick's job.

Nick transferred to a different location in GE (to be closer to home and have 1st shift hours.) The new location turned out to be a horrible work environment. He was so miserable while there and he ended up leaving. We were living on savings for a few months and wondering when Nick would find something else. He had a few offers out of town and we were praying about that.... we put out fleece after fleece about numerous jobs and God always let us know it wasn't meant to be. It's great when God answers you, but the answer "no" can get frustrating after awhile. Soon, I was wondering if anything was ever going to work out. Of course, timing is EVERYTHING, right? :)

God's timing was perfect. January came, and Nick's old job wanted him back. Since we have a baby due in 8 wks. I told Nick we HAD to get our own place. (We'd been living with my parents for about 9 months.) We were making arrangements to move into a rental within a couple of days when we got a phone call. The investment company we sold our house to wanted to sign it back over to us- for NOTHING. Nope, not kidding. Apparently, after buying our house 2 1/2 years ago, the economy had gotten worse and they'd had no luck getting a tenant's loan approved to purchase the property. Since the title was in their name a little too long for the bank's comfort, the bank declared fraud on them with our loan and they were forced to hand it back over to us.

Soooo... if they had called a few days later, we would have already signed another contract and been in a bind. But, God KNEW that, didn't He? He DID have a master plan- a WAY better one than I could ever think up. Now, we are in our house again that we OWN, it's exactly the size and location that we need, there's a great park for Benjamin, we have our own yard.... I am just so overwhelmed at God's blessings on us! He knew what we needed, and He knew what we needed to go through in order to appreciate it. There is a gratefulness in my heart now for my house and Nick's job that wasn't there before. The experience was difficult, but so worth it.

These days I'm just busy, busy, busy preparing the house for the baby's arrival. The cleaning, unpacking, painting, decorating... etc. pretty much takes up my days. I'm NESTING big time! *btw- if you have a Gospel Assembly church phone book from a few years ago, that's our address (again) :)*

Everything is GREAT with the pregnancy! And- gotta slip 1 more praise report in here: Would you believe this house is in the SAME condition as when we left it?? Better, actually. The guy who lived here built shelving in the closets and garage. The paint on the walls is even the same. I just can't get over how amazing God is. He really gave me the desire of my heart- and I honestly didn't even know what it was.

Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

God really knows how to "press down" and "shake together" a blessing, doesn't He?

He is SO good.