Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Being Stretched

I injured my shoulder and thought it would heal on its own. After several months of protecting and babying it, I found I have lost some flexibility. So now I’m in physical therapy working hard to get my range of motion back. I almost wiggled off the table in pain when my therapist stretched my arm in a direction it didn’t want to go. It is so painful to be stretched in different ways to allow the flexibility to return.

While driving home from work, I thought of the various ways God has stretched me to be a more tolerant and loving person. If I had not experienced some of the struggles and adversities in my life, I would not have cried out to God for His infinite wisdom and guidance in those areas. These things would not be familiar and I would not be prepared to embrace others with similar struggles.

If I had somehow been able to live in a safe and protected little world, I would have little range of motion and little flexibility. If I love only the lovable, is that any big deal? (Matt:5:46 Msg) My reach would be short and it would be awkward and painful if I tried to use it beyond that.

“No pain, no gain,” is what they cheerfully say in physical therapy (ugh!). But, I realize God has allowed the sometimes painful stretching to make me more mobile, flexible and useful to Him.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Cor.1:3-4 NIV) Thank you, God, for stretching me. 

Reflection: Are you being stretched? Can you see it as a good thing?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

10 Sweet Ways to Say "I Love You"

Attentiveness is one of the things that make a great marriage, don't you think? Some of these are so simple you may have forgotten how powerful they are.
  1. Ask. Are you warm? cold? tired? hungry? Do you need anything while I'm up? These are questions that say I care. When I'm perplexed or distressed, my favorite question from Ted is, "What do you need from me?"
  2. Listen carefully and with full attention. Don't multi-task when you have an important conversation going on. Whatever it is, it can wait.
  3. Eye contact. Once in awhile Ted will let me babble on for paragraphs without any acknowledgement. When I look up to see if he's listening, he smiles as if he were waiting the whole time to look in my eyes. (oops!)
  4. Smile. I love to see the same sweet grin I saw when we were dating, and I'm sure he does, too!
  5. Primp. Some women touch up their makeup or their hair just before hubby comes home so that they always look their best. Sometimes I keep my dress clothes on from work until he gets home because I know he likes that. But looking good is not all on the outside...
  6. Attitude. What kind of attitude do you wear? Are you focusing on the positives or always finding something that's not quite right?
  7. Greet. Stop what you are doing and make it a priority to greet him when he returns. Tell him you are happy to see him and to be with him.
  8. Always kiss goodnight. (It's such good advice, they made a plaque with those words!)
  9. Gratitude. Watch for the good things and communicate your appreciation.
  10. Don't guess. What makes you feel loved? What makes him feel loved? It's not a bad idea to have this conversation!
This was another part of the marriage seminar I gave recently. Let's keep the conversation going. What would you add to this list? What are your best tips on being attentive to your love?

Dear God, thank you for this wonderful man that you gave me. I sure love him. Help me never to take him for granted. Fill me and refuel me and help me to love him well.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Cool New Way to Journal!

I love to journal and to encourage others to do so. The biggest reason? To remember amazing things that God has done as I abide in Him!

As I re-read my journals, I am so encouraged to review what God has orchestrated. As I turn the pages, I see how the pieces fit together as part of His great plan. I get excited as I see my prayers of surrender and know that beautiful answers are coming in the pages that follow.

Maybe you don't have much time to journal... maybe you don't want to write too many details... or maybe you don't want others reading what you've written... Hey, I've found a cool new solution to all three!

It's called 280daily, an online way to journal. Here's the link to go and check it out. Set up your own secure account (it's free), and you'll get an email reminding you to sum up your day in 280 characters. That's the number of characters you see in the green paragraph above. If you use Twitter, it's twice as many characters as you can put in a tweet!

The site allows you to sort your entries in various categories, add photos, use the search feature, review fun stats (like how many times you've used certain words), and export to a PDF, CSV, or a book format.

How cool is that?! It's organized, private and portable! (Did I mention it's free?)

I've found it's a fun way to maximize my writing -- I practice telling the best story I can with only those few characters. It's also a reminder to optimize my life. Each day I want to have a story worth telling.

How do I sum up my day in 280 words? I try to capture a sweet moment, write what I'm learning or how I perceive God speaking to me on that day.

And for those days that just can't be summed up in 280 words, I still cherish the traditional method of journaling!

Lord, you make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11 NIV)

Do you journal? Why or why not?