Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Love isn't a feeling

Jesus gave us a great example of Love.
Why, then, is it so hard to be like Him?

Jesus' love is:
Literally dying to self.

And I know I cannot be Jesus, I cannot be perfect. But He gave an example over and over again. Why is it hard to follow?

It was bound to happen right? Me learning to love Tim when he's not so in tune with where I am at, or when he makes that odd remark or makes a joke at the wrong time. It is actually really hard. It is hard to be disciplined about loving him when I really feel like walking away because I feel hurt by him.

But what rights do I have?
What is Love?
What is my role?

Let me just say... I am learning a lot... again... still...

Tim's change of work and ministry has brought him into a rough season; a season where he is not always his happy, cheery self. This is why I need to step up to the plate and perhaps give more, and certainly love when he is falling short. Tim's been short with me a few times, and I certainly get it... he deserves grace in this season that came rather abruptly. And yet... I lack. I fail.

I hoped I would never be like this. I am embarrassed to admit, but I want to walk away when I get hurt. I want to move to the other side of the couch (and I have) when I hurt. I have a desperate need to protect myself from pain.

I have never had a man devoted to me. I have never been married, and so now I may put way too much responsibility on Tim. It's so wonderful to have someone who loves me, physically around. But with that comes that I depend too much on Tim to love me and make me feel good. So when he made a bad call a few times in a row, I turned around and separated myself from him. Not good! I even felt God guide me back in toward Tim, but I couldn't. I wasn't disciplined. I wasn't the graceful wife. I wasn't the loving wife. All I wanted was to be alone and deal with it alone.

I am realizing I always need God first, before I need Tim. Tim cannot and will not ever satisfy me. He is also not responsible for me. In a way, sure he is, but at the root he really isn't. So while I enjoy human love for the first time, I kind of fall into the trap of thinking this makes Tim responsible for my well being and me feeling love. It wasn't without reason that I put in my vows that “I realize that love isn't a feeling. It will be my choice.”

So God is kindly pointing out His truth and His good ways. They are better than my thoughts, truths and ways.

Tim and I went to this marriage conference a few weeks back. It was our first ;-) and what struck me most is when Paul Tripp said: “Women, you love your husband because God loved you first.” And: “So you don't love your husband when he is good to you. No! You especially love him when he fails, because God loved you first. You possess everything you need to love your husband.” It struck me! It pointed me to my need for Jesus. Yes, it may be hard to choose love when I am not feeling it, but when I choose and am disciplined to call out to Jesus, He will be faithful and make it possible, right there in that moment. I posses everything I need to love my husband and love him well.

Jesus' love was sacrificial. Maybe true love is love that hurts a little. For Jesus it meant given everything. It hurt. It wasn't easy. He even asked His Father if there wasn't a different way (Matthew 26:39). It meant sacrificing His life so we can have ours, and we didn't deserve it. Paul Trip mentioned that love isn't really love until it is sacrificing for the good on another, especially when the other doesn't deserve it. So I truly love Tim when it costs me something.

I need to treasure God's love over my husband's love. I need to go after God's love before going after my husband's love. Love isn't about me getting from my husband, it is about me loving Him well. And in turn it means loving Tim when he 'deserves' it least. I know Tim does the same for me and THAT makes a good marriage.

I love because God loved me first.
I possess everything I need to love my husband well.
Love is still not a feeling. It will be my choice.
I need to treasure God's love over my husband's love.
True love costs a little. True love is sacrificial.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Faithful in prayer

I have always wondered how that works: praying for people! People will ask me to pray for them, people will ask me to pray for a friend of theirs that I don't know, or I know of a friend who needs prayer desperately. It has happened that the list was overwhelmingly long that I really didn't know how to go about it. It seemed impossible to pray for everyone. I have always been sensitive to the fact that I never wanted to promise people I'd pray when I wasn't sure I could. And I wondered if people would really pray when I heard them say: "I'll pray for you" while passing me in the hallway. Would people really, really pray when they said they would?

And then I met Tim. And with him came his way of praying. Tim keeps a journal and he showed it to me in our early days. In there is a longggg list of people he prays for on a daily basis. And I got to see how he has his time with God during the day and he really, really prays for all those people faithfully. I was impressed, and love is written all over it. He would also bring many of those people before the Lord again in our night time prayer, adding more people to it as they would come to mind.

The wonderful thing about marriage is that now we can pray together. And it really is wonderful. It has an encouraging effect. So I find myself praying more than before. And we never promise to pray without fulfilling that promise. We actually follow through, and often right there on the spot.

Very regularly we get texts from people who need prayer and we do the fire safety thing like "stop drop and roll". We stop whatever we are doing, we drop to our knees (not always literally), and roll into a time of prayer. And just this week I realized how it's become a habit for us to pray for people. I love it! It's who we are becoming. And of course there is the truth that praying for other people doesn't just benefit the person for whom we are praying. It is very fulfilling, I have more time with our Lord and it builds my faith.

So... keep the prayer requests coming...

Friday, February 15, 2013

I Love Valentine's Day

Yesterday or any day before I would not have said I love Valentine's Day. I feel it is a commercialized day which lots of people going crazy with money and the only people who benefit are store owners. Yes, that is truly how I felt. I don't like to do things that have lost the true reason for the season (or day). Maybe it's because I was single all those years. Maybe because I had no one to share deep love with that made Valentine's Day meaningless. But even as Valentine's Day came closer and closer my feelings didn't change. I didn't want Tim to feel he had to spend money on gifts and such. I wanted to express my love for him, but in a Maddy way which was probably with home made things like baking love heart cookies or something.

I started writing this blog post yesterday and see there is not much love for Valentine's Day: Since last year Valentine's Day became actually special. Still, I would say I am not crazy about this day. I refuse to spend much money, that is NOT what this day is about. I refuse! But I couldn't help to think about ways I could let Tim know he is special to me. But Tim's love language is not 'words' so writing him a card is not the way. :( This is sad to me because I am all about the written word.

And now a day later, the day after Valentine's Day I would say it is an amazing day. A wonderful day. A Lovely day. It is a day where love is spread and communicated in sweet ways. Tim is amazing at it! And I would be crazy to not embrace that. So yes, it was probably my singleness that gave no meaning to this day. Because now, now I get it!

I felt so joyous. I felt such love from Tim and for Tim. Tim really gave the day meaning and in the best (and inexpensive) of ways showed me love. I felt it all very deep in my heart.

Without discussing the day much we both found sweet ways to love on each other. Tim had asked me weeks ago if it would be okay if we celebrated Valentine's Day with friends and I thought it was a great idea. Tim knows I love surprises and so that is all I knew about it. This in and of itself blessed me. Tim knew keeping things a secret would bless my heart.

In the morning my tea and OJ were accompanied by love heart straws. Such a simple and cheap way for him to show me his love and it spoke volumes of “I think of you today in special ways. You matter!” Then I walked downstairs and I stumbled upon this gigantic card. I had seen those cards in the store (remember, in my pre-Valentine's Day attitude) and I thought: “Yeah right, 6 dollars for a mega card like that, that will have no place in the home in the end.” Well the card HAS a place in our home for now. Even though Tim's love language isn't words, he lacked no creativity when he wrote this card. And this, this made my day.

We spend a lovely day together, me still getting over me being sick. We went for a little walk in Longwood Gardens where Tim was very patient with me when I wanted to take photos (of him). Another way he shows me love. Patience communicates love people!

When we got home I found this by our door:

I was amazed Tim had more in store for me. I was fully satisfied with the straws, and the card. This just blew my mind. I had not expected it and Tim really did an awesome job of being my husband and showering me with his love. He got me Dutch tulips! With a card that had a sentence from his vows to me. How precious and meaningful. Thought through, through and through. You can imagine my change of heart right?

And I knew what I had up my sleeve for later. I was going to make a love heart trail to our decorated bedroom where he would find a romantic scene with champagne, love heart brownies and our vows in frames.

Altogether it was a sweet day. A day that changed my look on Valentine's Day. 
I did think of my single friends and family and felt for them. I know for many of them it is an awkward day. You try to focus on God, knowing His will is best, but that can be hard on a day like this. So I prayed for you girls. Know that!
Melissa was extremely happy for me yesterday, my first Valentine's day with Tim and she wrote me this: “I do feel like this day is a gift to me as far as your life story goes. I always felt so burdened to try to make it special for you-- and to let you know how loved you were (are!). But now I know that will be MORE than taken care of by the BEST person possible."
And she is right... Melissa did think of me, her single friend, on Valentine's Day. Now I will take on that burden for my single loved ones...

Our plans got changed last night. Our friend Kristin was sick and so the romantic plans Jason made felt through. We ended up hanging with awesome Joe and Joy. That is always good fun!

Love is in the air with these two...

I remember last year... Last year, 9 days before Valentine's Day, I walked into who would soon be my husband. Being an ocean apart, he sent me flowers and the most meaningful card, having selected his words carefully.

This year, we were together, as husband and wife, for the very first time. Valentine's Day, in a way, I hope is a day like any other. The effort we make today, I hope we make every day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Conscious Cuddles

It is beautiful to see how Tim and I develop certain patterns and ways in our lives together. We were looking forward to this taking place, realizing you don't just sit down with one another and decide on how to do things. No, it's something that comes into existence without much effort. It just happens. Suddenly you realize you are doing something that really works.

I know we are still newlyweds but I sure
hope this will not merely be a 'newlywed thing'. I can't wait to get to bed at night. It's such a joy to be together after having been separated for a day and each of us having done our own thing. Reuniting at night is very sweet and something I look forward to. And once in bed I can't wait to wake up in the morning. And we have gotten into this routine where neither one of us gets up before CC's, conscious cuddles. Yes, something like 'conscious cuddles' exists in our home. No matter how tired at night, we always have our cuddles and prayers before going to sleep. And no matter how busy and filled up our day is, we make sure we set the alarm clock early enough we can have our CC's. It really is a sweet thing.  This is one of our habits that slipped in and I sure celebrate this about us. I trust we develop more routines and habits like this.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Receiving versus Giving

I am a giver. Due to being raised in a broken home I have learned to fend for myself. I was always inventive, took initiative and wasn't waiting for people to do things for me. Being single till age 39 enforced that even more. I was simply not used to people caring for me. I don't think that necessarily says something about the people around me. Even with the people who did care and gave, it was hard for me to receive and see. When someone was in need I would be there before even having been asked. I just notice need. It is a good trait. I am the person who thinks “your burden is my burden”.

And now I am married. I am married to a good man. A man who cares in sweet ways, a man to whom giving comes easily, a man who also sees need. My man loves me and wants to care for me and sees my need.

We knew we needed time to get into certain routines after we got married. The first weeks of our marriage I was the one to get up and making us breakfast and coffee, and I served Tim. I loved it. But Tim began another routine. He felt I was serving him so often that he thought it was a good thing if he would get up first in the morning to make me tea and fresh OJ. So that is what he does. He serves me, he brings me tea and OJ upstairs where I enjoy another 30 minutes in the bed by myself as he gets ready for his day.

Like I said, Tim desires to take care of me. And I will share that this is still not easy for me. I lie in bed awake and wait for him to serve ME?! I spoke with my dear friend Yvonne from Holland the other day. She knows my past and felt the need to remind me (again) of the fact that I needed some 'caring for' for a while. I just need to receive and I know she is right. I know God is teaching me in this. He is making me more whole. But besides making me more whole, it also reminds me of the fact that this is who Jesus is. He just gives! All I can do is receive. There is no giving on my part involved.

Jesus didn't come because I asked. I didn't see a need, and still He came to the world, to me, FOR me to grab hold of. I know that when I take in this truth and live every day from that perspective, I will be in a better place. I will breathe more easily, I will have rest and be at peace. From that good things come.

So as I am embracing Tim's care for me, I realize his care is a true picture of Jesus loving me.