what is love?

what is love

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the day when love is celebrated. But what is love?

The world’s definition of love:

Love is a loosely-used term in today’s culture. It is fleeting, and based on feelings and emotions. It is conditional, must always be romantic, is often selfish in nature, and self-centered. It can come and go at any time, and does not think in terms of longevity, but lives for the moment.

So what is love really?

Love is…

Loving someone even though they are flawed. I hear of single people stating they are waiting for the “perfect person” to come along. There are no perfect people. We are all flawed, all human, all broken. Someone will always have little idiosyncrasies that drive us crazy. Habits that are irritating, and mannerisms that are more than an annoyance. But love sees through that. It sees the heart of the person, flaws and all.

Loving someone through the hard times. If you ask people who have been married for a long time, they will tell you that marriage is not all roses and fun times. Illnesses, injuries, job loss, loss of loved ones, money problems – these can crop up at any time. Love stands beside someone through the surgeries, through the job losses, through the grief of loss. It doesn’t give up on someone, but remains steadfast.

committment

Making sacrifices. If you truly love someone, you will make sacrifices that are in your spouse’s best interests – even if it’s difficult.

Not dependent on feelings. Feelings are fickle at best. They come and go, are ever-changing, and can’t be trusted. Deep, abiding love realizes that feelings are undependable, and instead looks to commitment.

Not dependent on what you can get out of it. The Bible tells us to put the needs of others first and to put them above ourselves in Philippians 2:3. Love puts “self” aside and looks to what benefits the other person.

Forgiving. We all make mistakes. We are commanded to forgive others as we have been forgiven, even when it’s difficult. Love does not hold onto grudges.

1 Peter 4 8

Primarily evident in actions rather than words. Examples include supporting someone in their hobby or a dream, listening without interruption when they are telling you something that’s weighing on their heart, etc.

Loving as the Bible commands. Many verses in the Bible teach us how to love others. First John 4:19 says that we are able to love because God first loved us. Ephesians 4:2 tells us to Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” First Corinthians 13:4-5 says Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

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Sure, these are all nice verses, but how can we love like we are commanded? Only with the Lord’s help. People (including ourselves!) are not always easy to love. Only through dedicated and regular prayer can we love those whom we are called to love. Only as He grows us in grace and tenderness can we love like He does.

Thankfully, He does love us. More than we can fathom. More than we ever know this side of Heaven. And thankfully, God’s love for us isn’t based on feelings. His love is evident through His Son Jesus, today and everyday.

 

 

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the best Christmas gift ever received

Best gift recieved

What’s the best Christmas gift you have ever received (besides Jesus)?

I asked several wonderful friends on Facebook this very question. I loved their responses! They varied from recent gifts to treasured gifts of years ago, to gifts that no monetary value could be placed upon.

liittle girl at Christmas

My Brother sewing machine as I use it several times throughout the week. ~ Judith S.

A flat top guitar! I was 9 years old! ~ Dolores G.

Our first Christmas, my husband bought me a beautiful oak fiddleback rocking chair. It’s precious to me. ~ Melana C.

A unicycle from my brother and sisters when I was 8. They all went in on it without my parents help.~ Mariann F.

Loving parents who didn’t yell at me when in my child-like exuberance I cut a hole in my Daddy’s new pants while wrapping presents.~ Natalie T.

A wooden cow on a string, when pulled made a “moo” sound. I was 3. ~ Scotty B.

The gift that comes to mind is of wonderful Christmas memories, trying to think of some ‘things’ all I could remember were the feelings of Christmas, family together, Christmas Eve service, lights twinkling at night at my grandmas house with family on Christmas Eve. ~ Cheryl C.

Christmas house.jpg

My mom has said her best Christmas present was Christmas of 1987… when I was born shortly before and came home on Christmas Eve. ~ Holly Anne F.

My Grandma Burton and Grandpa traveled globally when he was in the Navy. One place they went was Italy. In Italy they purchased a gorgeous Nativity set. Each year the 3 grandkids took turns setting it up. As we got older it became my thing to do with Grandma and we spent the day setting it up, decorating and hanging out. One of my favorite days each year. For my 25th Christmas Grandma gave me the Nativity. It remains my favorite gift of all time. ~ Jessica P.

nativity scene 2

As a child the most memorable gift was an interchangeable, blue band, hard plastic bracelet/watch from my dad. Presents were all done , my brothers were digging around in their stalkings and my dad faked surprise and dug around IN the tree and brought out a small box for me and something similar for my mom. She didn’t know anything about it. It spoke volumes to me! I always doubted my worth, especially concerning them/him. It was a moment I relived in my head for years. As an adult from my husband, of course the wheel around dishwasher on our first Christmas together was awesome but I would have to say my replacement wedding ring he wrapped in a box and left on my car seat on Christmas morning. It wasn’t an expensive ring by any means and was meant to be an interim ring … I can’t seem to give it up though. ~ Holly C.

I consider my youngest daughter Allison to be a wonderful Christmas present even though her Birthday is on December 4 and she was brought home two days later in a Christmas stocking I still consider her to be the best Christmas gift ever! My older daughter Heather’s Birthday is on December 24 and (the ex and I) brought her home on the 25 of December in a Christmas stocking also. I definitely do consider them both the best Christmas gifts ever and you cannot beat those two gifts ever.~ Emma W.

The presents fade in memory—the laughter and love remain as the only gifts worth keeping.~ Kathy B.

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While these presents are meaningful and hold a special place in my friends’ hearts, there is a gift even more important, even more wonderful, than any of the aforementioned gifts. That gift is Jesus.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and may we never forget Who is the greatest gift of all!

8 great Christmas gift ideas for wives

8 Christmas gifts for wives

In my last post, I discussed 5 things a man should never buy his wife for Christmas. (If you haven’t yet read that post, make sure you do, because it’s absolutely hilarious and can be found here.

Ok, so, husbands, what do you get for your wife for Christmas? Here are eight excellent (more serious) ideas of things for all budgets that she’ll love:

1. A massage. The benefits of massage are numerous. It relaxes sore muscles, assists in stress relief, rounds out a fitness program, and improves the quality of life for those with diseases. Nearly every person can benefit from a massage. Ask around and find a reputable massage therapist in your town, or log on to http://www.amtamassage.org/findamassage/locator.aspx for some suggestions in your area.

2.  A book. Does your wife have a favorite author? Has she been eyeballing a book at the bookstore? I couldn’t not suggest a book since I’m an author myself! If your wife loves to read, but you’re not sure what book she’d like, a gift certificate from a local or online bookstore would be a great gift.

woman reading book.jpg

3. A month’s worth of housecleaning. What woman wouldn’t love a break from housecleaning if only for a month? Why not hire a cleaning service to come in for a month and lighten your wife’s load? Trust me, she’ll appreciate this, and it will for sure earn you  “husband points!”

4. A vacation…just the two of you. No, it doesn’t have to be a 7-day cruise, although that would be nice (Lon, if you’re reading this, hint hint!) A weekend getaway at a bed and breakfast works too. Ask a family member or friend to take care of the kids, before sweeping your wife off  her feet by planning a getaway for just the two of you. Be sure to plan this  ahead of time and have the date set in stone, as life gets busy. You don’t want her Christmas gift to get forgotten.

5. Purchase a pamper kit. Choose a day and declare it your wife’s pamper day. She will be ushered first to the salon for a manicure or to have her hair done. Second, she will be treated to a no-interruptions bubble bath. That means that if you have small children, take them out for a Daddy Day while your wife relaxes. Third, she heads to the massage therapist for a much-needed massage (see #1). Fourth, take her out to a romantic dinner at a nice restaurant. Pull this off and I guarantee your Christmas will be very merry!

manicure

So, what if you’re short on cash during these strained economic times? Check out these economical suggestions that can mean so much:

6. A coupon book. You may have heard of this before…it’s a homemade coupon book full of kind things to do for your wife.  Cleaning her car inside and out would be a kind gesture, especially if the constant hauling around of children and pets has left the floor in your minivan stained and dirty. Offer to check her oil, check the tires, fill it full of gas, and wash the outside as well. Other suggestions can range from lovey-dovey romance coupons to thoughtful items (use your imagination here, guys!) There is no expiration date, and perhaps some coupons can be used more than once!

7. A promise to grow in your walk with the Lord together. Offer to pray with her and study the Word together. Plan, on a weekly basis, to put the Lord as the top priority in your marriage and watch how He changes you both for the better!

8. Renew your wedding vows. Have you been married any length of time? How about a renewing of your wedding vows? It doesn’t have to be fancy. Enlist your pastor’s help and have a small wedding where you rededicate your lives to each other.

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There you have it! Now hurry…you only have a few more shopping days left! Oh, and Merry Christmas!

 

 

 


Looking for some other Christmas posts? Check these out!

9 memorable Christmas traditions for families

21 fun Christmas stocking stuffer ideas

Movie Monday: A Bramble House Christmas

5 things a man should never buy his wife for Christmas

 
5 things a man should never

All right, all you sweet and thoughtful husbands…have you decided what to buy your wife for Christmas yet?

Start making those lists!

And wives, if you’re reading this, kindly suggest to your husband to read this post – it could make your Christmas much merrier. 🙂

 
Ok, here is some helpful and humorous advice from a veteran wife of 26 years…

Disclaimer: these are just generalities and some wives may like the items on the “do not buy” list. Plan accordingly, and good luck!

Do not buy your wife:

1. Something she doesn’t want, but that you would like. For instance, don’t buy your wife a new (or gently used from the wrecking yard) car muffler for Christmas, unless she’s a mechanic or big into NASCAR. Lon bought a loud muffler thingy for our Jeep Cherokee years ago that sounded like what would belong on the vehicle of a high schooler. Guess who drove the Jeep 99.9% of the time? Yep, me. (And no, I wasn’t in high school) Guess what happened when we went to trade the Jeep in for a bigger vehicle once we started our family?

The thing was so loud that the car salesman told us we needed to “fix” the loud muffler before trading it in. Lon finally did convince the car salesman that the muffler wasn’t broken, but that it was a “high performance bought- and -installed- on- purpose- muffler.” Now some other poor wife is driving a Jeep that you can hear from a mile away!

Nix the new car tires too. While that’s nice that you want your wife to be safe, save it as a “family purchase” rather than a “gift for the wife purchase.”

2. Clothing. Husbands, unless you know your wife’s correct size, stick to a gift card at her favorite department store instead. Here’s why: If you buy her a size that’s four times her actual size, she’ll think you think she’s fat. Alternatively, if you buy her a size four times smaller than her actual size, she’ll think you think she needs to lose weight. See how this is a lose-lose situation?  So, unless you know for sure that she always wears a size medium in sweaters, please pass on the clothes. Otherwise, you may find yourself in deep trouble with your sweetie poo.

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3. A toolbox. When Lon and I were first married, he wrapped a large present and hid it under the tree. I was so excited and couldn’t wait until Christmas. Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and it was a toolbox complete with my own set of tools! I thanked my sweet husband for his nice gesture, but I was puzzled. I’ve never been very handy with tools and the farthest thing from a “fix-it girl” there ever was. Our story landed us on the pages of Woman’s World and the toolbox remains in the garage where Lon uses it on a regular basis. Disclaimer: this is a perfect gift only if your wife is the “fix-it type.” Otherwise, please pass on this gift idea!

toolbox.jpg

4. Exercise equipment. Does this one really need any explanation? Unless she asks for that new treadmill, pass on the expensive (or not-so-expensive) exercise equipment. You and your marriage will be glad you did.

5. A kitchen appliance. Unless she specifically asks for it or you can tell from her look of anguish at the toaster you received for your wedding gift 45 years ago, keep away from kitchen appliances. Ditto for mops, a year’s worth of cleaning supplies,  a garden tiller, a chainsaw, or a lawnmower. Just trust me on this. Really.

toasteer

 

Join me next time for some wife-approved Christmas gift ideas!


 

Check out these other posts pertaining to Christmas!

9 memorable Christmas traditions for families

21 fun Christmas stocking stuffer ideas

Movie Monday: A Bramble House Christmas

Movie Monday: Switched for Christmas

9 recently-released Movies for your next family night

21 awesome family movies you may never have heard of

Movie Monday: Finding Father ChristmasMovie Monday: Finding Father Christmas

9 memorable Christmas traditions for families

9 christmas traditions

It’s that time of year again! Time to create or revisit holiday family traditions. Need some fresh ideas to add to your family’s list of fun customs for Christmas? Here are some memorable suggestions:

Adopt a family. Many families are struggling this time of year, so our family “adopts” a family and provides a Christmas dinner for them. We include a turkey or ham, stuffing (if we provided a turkey), two cans of vegetables, a bag of potatoes, and a dessert. Alternatively, if your house is big enough, why not invite someone who has nowhere to go for Christmas to your house to enjoy Christmas dinner with your family?

Read the real Christmas story. I love the tradition of reading Luke 2:1-20 on Christmas Day and reflecting on the real meaning of Christmas. A baby born who would one day die for the sins of mankind so they could have eternal life. Have each family member take turns reading verses, or have mom or dad read it in its entirety.

nativity scene.jpg

Go Christmas lighting. From the time our two daughters were toddlers, we have changed into pajamas and loaded into our SUV for a trip around our town to check out the Christmas lights. Each year we vote on a home to win the “Christmas Winter Wonderland Prize.”

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Attend Candlelight Eve Service. Christmas wouldn’t be complete without attending the Candlelight Eve Service at our church. Not only do we attend, but we also make it a point to invite neighbors and friends who may not otherwise know about the event.

Host a treasure hunt. Each Christmas Eve, my husband and I write numerous “sticky notes” with clues on them for each of our girls. We then place them strategically around the house. On Christmas Day, the girls race to find clues, and subsequently, one of their Christmas gifts. Treasure hunts are fun, and if you have a zany sense of humor like the Zeller parents, try to rhyme the clues with silly words.

Collect an ornament a year. When we decorate the tree, I love the memories that go with each decoration. From the time I was born, my grandma, Nanie, would give each grandchild a decoration each year for Christmas. That has expanded into decorations for each great-grandchild. Not only does Nanie supply her grands and great-grands with homemade decorations, but we also pick out a special ornament as a family to add to our tree each year.

Give an ornament to each of your children each year the day after Thanksgiving. Better yet? Encourage your children or grandchildren to create a special Christmas decoration for the tree. Homemade ornaments are by far the best!

Christmas decoration 4

Remember Christmas songs of old. Why not make it a tradition to go Christmas caroling? Around the neighborhood, downtown, in businesses (with the owner’s/manager’s permission) or, better yet, nursing homes would love to have their residents cheered with the voices of carolers. Bring along a few generic wrapped gifts to hand out to those residents who might not otherwise receive a gift. Suggestions may include fuzzy socks, a pretty journal, or fragrance-free hand lotion.

Bake and deliver goodies. Our family enjoys the tradition of making Christmas goodies and delivering them to neighbors and those in our community who have blessed us throughout the year.

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Partake in a board game. A friend of mine plays board games with his family to determine who chooses/opens the next Christmas gift.

It’s never too late to start a Christmas tradition that can be passed on to further generations. When your children and grandchildren are all grown, they will have fond memories of the traditions you embraced and cherished as a family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tasty gluten-free chicken pot pie

GF CHicken Header

Before beginning the recipe, remove two packs of gluten free pie crusts (each pack contains two shells) from the freezer. (I use Wholly Wholesome Gluten Free Pie Crust).

Preheat oven to 350.

Vegetable filling:

In a large pot, mix in a 12 ounce bag each of frozen green beans and corn. Add 1/4 to 1/2 bag of frozen peas. Add water and put on medium heat.

Gravy filling:

1/4 c. butter

4 c. GF broth (I use Swanson’s 33% less sodium chicken broth).

1 1/2 c. milk (I substitute rice milk since our family has cow milk allergies).

3/4 c. gf flour (I like Pillsbury All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend)

Pinch of pepper (optional)

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Slowly mix in milk and broth and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat. Mix in flour, and whisk constantly until thickened.

Add in 20 ounces of baked chicken. (I use Hormel Premium Chicken Breast).

Once the gravy filling and vegetable filling are complete, mix together in the large vegetable filling pot.

chicken pot pie(2)

Place two pie shells on a cookie sheet. Pour mixed fillings into two pie shells. Flip the remaining two pie shells over on top of the filled pie shells. Cover the filling completely and pinch the corners of the shells. Be sure to allow gaps for ventilation.

Cook for approximately 35 minutes.  Pies are done when their tops are golden brown.

Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then enjoy.

GF Chicken Pot Pie

What is your favorite gluten free dinner recipe?

 

 

 

8 things I want my daughters to know

mom and daughter

As the mother of two daughters, there seems to be such a short time in which to teach them all the things they will need to know by the time they reach adulthood. Will I succeed in teaching them everything? No. But I can focus on teaching them these important truths.

Focus on the things that are eternal. Material items, popularity, sports, homework, stress…these are things that will waste away. It is so easy to get caught up in the stresses of life – and there are many. But I hope you will remember that the only things that truly matter are those things that are eternal. Faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ is eternal. Sharing about Him to our loved ones and friends can plant the seeds for their eternal life.

The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of our God endures forever.~Isaiah 40:8

God’s love is unconditional. Ask just about anyone and they will tell you they have experienced a time when someone stopped liking/loving them because of something they did or said. In a world where love is fickle, God’s love is unconditional and never changes. Nothing you can do can make Him love you any more than He already does. And nothing you can do can make Him love you any less.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39

Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies~ Psalm 36:5

Jesus understands. He’s been there. Jesus knows and cares for every detail of our lives. He, too, has had a friend betray him. He has been on the receiving end of lies, has experienced loneliness, and has been tempted. But no matter who lets you down, there is One who never will. He promises NEVER to leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5).

Hebrews 13 5

Where to find your value and self worth. It is so easy to attempt to find your self worth in others. That friend. That boyfriend. Your husband. Your parent. But your self worth comes only from One. If we  garner our value from another human being, we will always be disappointed.

In our looks-obsessed culture, we could tend to think our value comes from our hairstyle, clothes, or whether our figure matches that on the front of a magazine. But our value does not come from people or from any of those things. Our value and our beauty comes from within. I have known far to too many women (and men!) who appear attractive on the outside, but are far from attractive on the inside. I hope that you will seek to be the girl God made you to be – one who has the love of Jesus within and who seeks to share it with others by the way she lives.

Proverbs 31 30

Speaking of value, do you know how valuable you are to our Lord? He loves you so, so much. Enough to give His very life for you.

The value of prayer. How often do we say, “Well, the only thing we can do now is pray.” The only thing? How about the most important thing and the thing that should top our list? Prayer is powerful. It is effective. And it’s our way of communicating with the One who created us and wants a relationship with us.

James 5 16

God’s Word never changes. In any given day, especially in our quick-as-the-blink-of-an-eye culture, things change. Technology, the weather, fashion, styles, etc. But God’s Word is steadfast and never changes. We, as a culture, can try all we want to make God’s Word squeeze into our man-made box, but it will be futile. We should instead, with the help of the Holy Spirit, live as He commands by learning and living by the precious and timeless words of Scripture.

Give to God the unimportant things in your life, the important things in your life, and everything in between. Your future plans? Give it to the Lord. Your future husband? Give it to God. Surrender your life to Him and allow Him to use you for His glory. And He will.

Jeremiah 29 11

 

Aim to please only One. Live your life to please the One who matters. And everything else will fall into place.