February 29, 2012

29 Days of Love–Final Thoughts

29 Days of Love - Final

I guess it’s redundant to tell you how much I love and adore my kids and AB – but it’s truth.  Still, as I told you, I struggled this month to express that love in tangible ways.  I thought this challenge was a no-brainer.  Do some fun stuff to show your love.  And some days it was easy and others, it was practically impossible.  Not what I hoped or expected!

Some days I was so bound up by the tantrums and the meltdowns and the running here and there and everywhere that is our life right now – that I just kind of slipped out of the mindset of showing love.  Frankly, I slipped into a more unhappy and not so loveable version of myself who we should just forget about.  Mmkay?

I’m not proud that I didn’t finish this month strong – honestly, I’m disappointed in myself.  I thought this was going to be such a fun one – and instead, life took over and February was gone before I could blink.  Still, I think putting the challenge before yourself and saying “I’m going to try to do this month different than all the other February’s I’ve had” – well, that’s still something.  And even if you only manage to do four or ten of those days – at least you tried.  Right?  Right?  Somebody?  Gulp. 

I’m hoping that you did better than I did.  That would actually make me really happy.  I’m hoping that someone out there really took the idea and ran with it!  I’m hoping that it jumpstarted for some of you, a feeling of love and displays of affection that in the busyness of life can be easy to let slip by.

As for Anton and I, we are really missing January’s challenge – and perhaps that has taken the wind out of February for us.  We really made some great changes with 30 Days of Nothing {Unhealthy}, and now it feels like it’s all slipping right back.  More for me and less for him – but still.  I keep thinking that we might have to do a “re-mix” of that challenge again this summer.  Still thinking about it…anyone up for that?

Come back tomorrow to see where we’re heading in March (the blog design will give it all away!) and to sign up for March’s “31 Days to KICK a Bad Habit”!

Meanwhile, back to the loves of my life…

IMG_9884   IMG_9935
IMG_9954      IMG_9966

February 27, 2012

March’s Challenge

Remember when we started these challenges, and I said “some months I’ll post a lot about them, and some months not so much”?  Well, February was clearly a “not so much” kinda month.  And frankly, March isn’t looking so hot either.  But I’ve never been about the “traffic” – so it just is what it is.  Sometimes I feel like I’m in seasons where the writings are just not coming to me – and other times, well, clearly they are.  I just try to be true to the moment.  That’s how we end up with posts like that last one.

Meanwhile, there is A LOT going on!  We are preparing ourselves for a wonderful trip next month, and those details will be revealed Thursday with my March layout!  Also, I need to introduce March’s Challenge to you:

This is a personal challenge.  If you have a bad habit you’ve been wanting to KICK to the curb, then maybe this is your month to make that happen.  Maybe you drink too much soda?  Maybe you smoke?  Maybe you’ve got a potty mouth?  Maybe you go to bed way too late, maybe you don’t exercise, maybe you bite your nails, maybe you watch too much TV or spend too much time on Facebook.  I could keep going, but you get it.  Maybe we ALL have things that could use a tune-up. 

The goal is to pick the one that you would like to work on for one month.  I want you to map out a plan for making this month effective.  Think out how your bad habits are affecting the other areas of your life.  If you spend too much time doing something, how does that impact your day?  If you cut your bad habit out, how will that free you up?  If your health is suffering from your bad habit – how can you incorporate healthier options in its place to see changes immediately? 

Here are three resource articles that you can use to motivate you and include great pointers on how to go about breaking a bad habit:

I also want to go on record as having said: this is your own business.  I am not going to ask anyone to post about it, unless you want to.  And please do let me know if you are blogging about it, so I can ask others to follow along as well. 

Sometimes bad habits are just that: bad.  Bad for us, and sometimes bad for others.  The very nature of a bad habit can be embarrassing.  I don’t want this challenge to be embarrassing, I want it to be ENCOURAGING.  This week, I will talk about my own bad habit and try my darndest to KICK IT for March.  So be thinking about it – as we only have two more days before March is here. 

On another note: I’m so SO so stinking proud of the many of you who have joined us these past six months for the myriad of difficult challenges we have taken on.  I have received SO MANY e-mails about the progress and changes you have made and it has encouraged me WHOLEHEARTEDLY!  I am so BLESSED to have been even a small part in some of the changes that have been made in your lives.  What an incredible amount of things we have all accomplished since September!

More to come Thursday!

February 19, 2012

29 Days of Love & A Little Cup of Water

Can I tell you something?  Something I’m not necessarily fond of talking about, but that which I am recently overwhelmed by? 

29 Days of Love – it should be fairly easy, right?  I mean – show extra love to those you love for 29 days – how hard is that?  Well, actually – this month it feels kind of insurmountable.  Not because my heart is not overwhelmed and overflowing with love for my sweethearts – because IT IS.  But having said that – and meant it – I have to tell you, I’m having a hard time getting along with my little boy.  And that’s really a whole nother’ story – because I’m not going into the why…but I will say…

…every time I start to write a post – it’s all I want to talk about.  Girls night out this weekend?  Riddled with conversation about my confusion, my frustration, my angst…my longing…and still it wasn’t enough.  I’m still stuck there.  In that place of sadness.  Every time someone asks me how I am?  Diarrhea of the mouth about Q and our struggles.

He is a wonderful boy.  A charming, strong-willed, loving, SPITFIRE, beautiful, outrageous, amazing, infuriating, wonderful boy.  And I am in love with him.  I want to put him in my lap and whisper words of love and adoration, and I want that to solve all of it.  But it’s not going to happen.  That is, I’m going to continue to pull him in my lap and whisper my love for him – and we’re still going to wake up each day and wonder how we’re going to make it through.  And I’m finally realizing – I guess I’m na├»ve that way – that we could be, and likely are, going to deal with much of what we are going through now for many years to come.  Likely throughout his life.

I can’t tell you how sad that makes my heart.  How heavy that feels.  How if I could soak up every ounce of his struggles and take them onto my own person – I would never even blink with hesitation.  I would take every last drop. 

Instead, I’m just reminded that this is a long road.  That Rome wasn’t built in a day.  That we have a tremendous journey ahead of us with Quint.  That as he grows, new issues seem to arise – prolonging and changing the course ahead.  Like new chapters written into a story that I thought I had already written the entire plot for.  And nothing to be done but forge ahead into the unknown and hope that the ending still looks as beautiful as the one I had planned on. 

As I put him to bed the other night,  I was at first frustrated by his typical “antics” – his stall tactics and his many requests.  But as I stood in the dark of his room – hovering over him while he sipped at a cup of water – waiting in my exhaustion from the day for him to “release me” – I was overcome.  I felt the years moving away from me, and I felt him aging – as if before my eyes.  I saw him grown and gone.  I saw him on his own.  As a man and no longer in need of these trivial little things – like a cup of water from his mama, late at night.  No longer in need of me – not like this.  No longer needing me for all of his comfort, small and great.  For his reassurance in the midst of the storm.  For his goodnight and his cup of water.  I very clearly and fleetingly saw that this time with him was in fact the shortest possible amount of time and how easily it could be squandered.  I heard the many voices of my motherhood who have gently reminded me how fast they are gone from you.  I heard them and I listened – and truly – it was as if time was still for a moment while I watched him sitting up in his bed – drinking that small cup of water in all of his four years and two months and a couple days.


I was overwhelmed with love for him.  And for the fact that I knew in the blink of an eye, this would be no more; my opportunity to give him what he needs and to be who he needs. 

And I don’t know how to tell you this other than to say, that in the midst of my great frustration in that moment  - I also felt true and pure regret.  Regret because I would waste even a day languishing in complaint about where we seem to be stuck with our sweet boy.  Regret that as sure as yesterday came and went, he was a baby in a crib in that same exact spot – cooing and looking up at me with those enormous brown eyes…as sure as he was a 2 year old in his “toddler bed” and so proud of himself for crawling in and out…as sure as I tucked him in after that drink of water, planting yet another kiss on his little cheek – my four year old – tomorrow he would be gone from us…to have his own life and his own family…and would not need nearly as much from me.  Or that his needs would be so very different.  And regretting that I seemed incapable of appreciating the hills AND the valleys of my days being his mother.

So I’m stuck there a bit.  In the day to day – so frustrated….so tired….so spent from dealing with whatever is the latest in a long stream of complications with Quint.  In the nighttime, trying to sleep – but filled with regret.  That it wasn’t as it should have been today. That I could have done better.  That I should have given more of myself to him.  That I should have tried much harder to reach him or reach out to him.  That I’m failing him – somehow, someway.  That I’m missing it.  And that in the years to come I will weep for the days when he called to me in the night and asked for a cup of water and another hug and kiss.  How I will long for those moment with sad tears…and cherish them so much more than I seem to be capable of now. 

The years slip by, and I am distraught to lose them.  I am sad to see them go – because they are taking opportunities with them.  For me to do better at being his mom.  For me to have better understanding of who he is and why.  For me to love him better, because I can’t possibly love him more.  For me to grow up and for him to stay as he is until I do. 

In the meantime, I’m fighting my own will every day.  Not to love him because that is like breathing for me - natural and easy…but to genuinely cherish him – all of who he is  - day to day.  To cherish him.  The difficulties, hardships, joy, and the sweetest moments.  Knowing that there will be a time – in what will feel like a blink…when I will truly long for the days of fetching him a little cup of water and feeling those little hands pressed against my back. 

I already miss them…and they haven’t even left…

Love your babies, friends.


February 14, 2012

29 Days of Love–Happy Valentines Day!!!

Please, oh please…do something mushy for those you love…life is too short to wish you had…



February 11, 2012

29 Days of Love–Oma & Opa Style….

29 Days of Love - Final

Well, as I said in my last post – the grandparents are here!  And one of the things I really appreciate and admire about AB’s parents is the way things just GET DONE when they’re here.  If they see a need, they will try to fill it.  If they can help, they will.  If they can repair or build or replace things for us – they don’t even hesitate.  They are do-ers and I can’t tell you how much that means to this particularly tired and overwhelmed mama.  It’s love in the sweetest form for me – the gift of service.  And it’s not an easy one to give because it requires effort and energy and stamina and a willingness to serve  – but it’s such a blessing, isn’t it?  For instance:

Little man will be 5 this year.  First of all – can you even believe that?  Five.  Hello?  How did that happen…  And he’s been in a “race-car” toddler bed, complete with his crib mattress for the past two + years.  But I’m embarrassed to tell you that his feet have been over the end of it for a while, and he has complained that it’s not comfortable for even longer.  Ahem.  And I’ve had the best of intentions at getting that bed replaced – but time has gotten away from me (and resources).   When Oma and Opa showed up yesterday and saw that need – the jumped into action to fix it.  And I mean, within two hours of their arrival….we were out the door shopping beds. 

Oma & Opa purchased a wonderful bed (actually, the perfect bed that matches his furniture) and suddenly he was spending his last night in that awesome race-car bed that more than did its job.   (There’s a car bed under all that blankie!)


But the next day, we didn’t mess around – we got right to the task of putting the awesome purchase together… (and we had lots of excited helpers!)
IMG_0014-rev    IMG_0018-rev

And in no time, we had a very, very happy boy!  (and a relieved and ecstatic Mom and Dad!)


Meanwhile, Baby Girl – who is sadly not a baby anymore and will be THREE in June – (gasp!  How did THAT happen too?!?!) has been potty trained for five months, but still in her crib.  This made nighttime pull-ups a must and accidents a commonplace while in bed at night.  She has never mastered climbing out of the crib, because her crib is set very low.  Oma & Opa said “why don’t we get her a toddler bed while we’re out!”  Remembering the day we put that crib together, made it bittersweet. How the time has flown…

Back when Daddy set it up for the first time….2006
We like this project

And so, within minutes of wishing Quint a good last night in his own bed, 
we were wishing this sweetheart a peaceful sleep for her last night in her crib.  Sniffle…

The next morning, and with many hands making light work, we had a very, very happy girl! 
(and a relieved and ecstatic Mom and Dad!)
  IMG_0042-rev IMG_0038-rev


Not leaving us out, our laundry room is a tight squeeze.  Like, a really tight squeeze – as in “no room at the inn”.  We’ve been making do since we purchased “George and Gracie” a year ago (my amazing, wonderful, awesome washer/dryer combo).  Because of the additional cost, we didn’t purchase the matching “drawer” units that sit underneath the washer and dryer – so expensive.  Instead, Opa used his awesome woodworking skills and built a unit for us…but first we had to do some shifting…


And before I knew it…I was ogling my new setup.  George and Gracie were at eye level (no more stooping!) 
AND there was now a fabulous storage area for all of my laundry baskets!  Sweet!  

People – he put this together in a matter of a couple hours.  I was amazed and totally grateful!


Other projects got tackled as well – like a new light fixture installed for Quint’s room (seeing as how the one that we had was fried and only worked on side – eek!), a whole hallway full of new light fixtures to replace the generic ones that came with the house, and new comforters and bedding for the children (adorable!). 

Here’s my point, that is - besides showing my pure GRATEFULNESS and THANKS to my in-laws.  The point is – they were showing love to us and to the kids, and it was such a wonderful gesture of love that I am still smiling ear to ear about it.  My heart is full up!  It’s not just the purchases – though, goodness knows, it was an incredible blessing.  It’s the act of service for the time it took to pick out, purchase, lug it home, assemble everything, clean up the mess, and enjoy the fruits of it with us.  Every time I walk past Quint’s room, I’m giddy that my big boy now has a big-boy bed to go with his long legs.  I’m so happy that Keira can now use the potty at night and that she loves her bed as much as we do.  I’m thrilled that Quint has an awesome new light fixture in his room – let there be light!  I’m just thrilled to see so much accomplished in 24 hours.

Showing love to your family this month can come in many shapes, forms, and sizes.  For us, it came in the shape of our parents extending their time, love, and resources.  Helping us shift with the growing pains of our little family of four. 

We  definitely feel the love…

Valentines is in 3 days – do something spectacular for your family!

February 10, 2012

29 Days of Love ~ Catching Up

29 Days of Love - Final

I know.  It’s been like a week.  Ok, it HAS been a week.   I’m sorry…after 31 days of Nothing {Unhealthy} – I got kind of worn out on all that posting.  Our life is nuts right now.  That’s how it feels.  Nuts.  Something going on every day, commitments pulling us in every direction and full schedules and trying to make sure to carve out ample time to be Mommy to these amazing kids I love so much.  On and on…the list just grows. 

But speaking of love and this month’s challenge – I’ve been trying to incorporate little things into each day to make them special: 

Love notes on their bedroom doors…

baking and decorating Valentines cupcakes together…(mmmm…delish!)


Family time each night that includes games, reading books together, making special Valentine crafts, and playing on the floor. Extra hugs. Extra kisses. Extras thrown in wherever I can get them.

We only have 19 days left in the Challenge and that’s not a whole lot.  If you need ideas for how you can show tangible love to your family this month, please go back and read THIS POST.  If you need a re-cap of what this month’s Challenge is all about – you can read THIS POST.

I know this is brief, but it’s the weekend – and Oma and Opa are down for a visit.  I would love to hear about the expressions of love you’re showing your family and I can always use a great idea! 

Have a great weekend, my friends!  Let’s see if I can pick up the posting action next week?

February 3, 2012

29 Days of Love–Tangible Expressions

29 Days of Love - base writing

As promised, here are some tangible expressions of love you can show for February’s 29 Days of Love

  • Write a love note a week to your spouse and hide them in places that will be a nice surprise
  • Make a long list of affirmations for each of your children and read them together
  • Bake a special treat and enjoy them together
  • Make an ordinary week-night into an extraordinary night. Make a fancy dinner with special china and tablecloth and love notes at each place setting. Light candles. Put on some music. Include your children! Give them sparkling cider in real glasses.
  • Make a large heart out of construction paper and list in sharpie pen all that you love about that family member. Hang this on their bedroom door so they can see it each day of the month
  • Mail Valentines to each of your siblings, parents, grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins…on and on. To be extra special – hand make them. If you feel overwhelmed by this – just remember that the challenges are meant to be a sacrifice and to teach us how to extend more or ourselves. Doesn’t have to be flawless – it just need to be from the heart…let your kids help you to make them!
  • Make a special breakfast, complete with heart garland, special napkins, and lots of cozy food. Make Oatmeal with cinnamon, apples, and cranberries (or Red Hots!)
  • Learn how to say I love you in different languages and practice those around the house. Have fun with it!
  • Do the chores your child or spouse normally does for a week, or even a day.
  • Make up a little sign-up sheet offering times for “Free Backrubs” to your family members (five minutes each or whatever works for you!)
  • Host a Movie Night, light a fire, get all your warmest blankets washed, fluffed, and on the couch – make a batch of cookies (hello, ready bake!) and whip up some Hot Chocolate with extra marshmallows. It helps if the movie has a message of love!
  • Start your spouses car five minutes early (scrape the ice off the windshield) and put a hot travel mug of coffee or tea in the cup holder. Leave a love note on the steering wheel.
  • Arrange a fabulous date night with your honey
  • Arrange a fabulous date night with your sons or daughters Make up a Date Menu and let them pick their favorite items for the date. Kind of like “Choose your own Adventure!”
  • Buy flowers for your children or spouse. Have them delivered to school or work. OR have them waiting when they get home.
  • Make it a point to say to each member of your family “I’m proud of you”.
  • Surprise your children or spouse with a homemade lunch at work or school
  • Fill up your spouses car with gas, get the oil changed, get the car washed
  • Clean your children’s rooms, leave nice clean sheets and blankets, add special touches you know they will love
  • Make a scrapbook or photobook with pictures of you and your family members showing love or affection to each other. We have hundreds of pictures of kisses on the cheeks, kissing or hugging our kids, and affection. It’s a nice reminder of how much love you share.
  • Have a game night – pull out the board games, Wii, cards, whatever you love –and have a great time. Be sure to have snacks, popcorn, and your inner child. Just sayin’.
  • Commit to say I love you EACH DAY to every member of your house and for a nice touch, follow it up with a hug or kiss.  Mean it.  Say it and mean it and show it.  Capish?
  • Serve your family breakfast in bed – be sure to put personal touches in there
  • Don’t complain.  You heard me.  Let things slide and don’t complain about the trash, the toilet seat, the toothpaste in the sink, the socks on the floor, the {insert annoying and complain worthy issue here}.  Don’t complain.  Swallow the complaint and replace it with a positive encouragement. 
  • Heart-shaped pancakes or cookies or even bacon (yes, bacon…mmmm)
  • Give your loved ones space.  Just turn off the nag button and give them space.  It’s not the end of the world and you will, in fact, survive without getting those “items” off your chest
  • Use your manners.  I know this sounds strange, but so often I come across people who have none.  Say please, thank you, pardon me, excuse me, and anything else you can think of to extend common courtesy to those you love.  Makes me nuts when I notice people who treat strangers nicer than their own family members. 
  • Be a good listener.  If you’re children love to talk, talk, talk – arrange a time that you can sit and hear all about their days, their projects, their friends, and their life.  For your spouse, arrange a quiet time when you can listen about their day, their concerns, etc. and make eye contact.  Don’t be distracted and don’t cut it short.  This is the month to really make an effort to go the extra mile for them.
  • Host a Family Dance – and truly have fun with it.  Make a playlist and take 30 minutes or longer to really let loose and have fun.  You will be amazed how happy this simple silly act will make you. 
  • Wear perfume/cologne.  Many people stop doing this after marriage.  Not sure why.  Smell nice, look nice, etc. for your honey.  Make an effort.
  • Host a couples party with wine and fondue or cheeses and chocolates.  Get lots of ideas for Wine & Cheese HereHERE – and for a fabulous Fondue Party HERE - HERE and HERE.
  • Host a slumber party for your kids and make kindness and love the focus – get ideas here and here!

There are SO MANY WAYS TO SHOW YOUR LOVE!  I’d love to hear your ideas – leave them in the comments!

February 1, 2012

29 Days of Love ~ Intro Post

29 Days of Love - base writing

I Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

This challenge marks the 6-month point for those of you following the Year of Challenges.  I can’t believe we’ve actually hit the six-month mark – and I’ll be the first to admit to you that there have been a hundred few times I’ve wondered what in the world I was thinking taking this huge task on.  On the other hand, I can tell you that I’ve been stretched and forced to look at myself and my selfish tendencies in a way that I’ve never bothered to before.  If you’re just joining us, be sure to take a peek at the “Challenges” tab above to see where we’ve been with this project and what’s up and coming!

So Love.  Yes, February is the month for sweethearts – and I totally enjoy the colors, the sentiment, and the idea that we celebrate finding that special someone.  But let’s face it; this is a Hallmark Holiday if there ever was one.  And if you truly understand where this tradition emerged, you begin to wonder how we got it whittled down to a lovers only celebration. 

Visit HERE to read how the holiday originated and see just how far we’ve come!  Women, you just be happy you’re not getting slapped with blood drenched pieces of goat hide – that’s all I’m saying!

But one of things about the Month of Love that I think is often missing is the way we show love to our entire family.  Not just our significant other.  So this month, we’re going to focus on showing our love to our household.  And if you’re single – we’re going to show love to our extended family.    And I don’t need to tell you that “family” is a broad term indeed – many of us have people in our heart that are not related by blood, but whom we consider closer than any family we might have. You know who your family is… 

In November, we focused on showing thanks for our friends.  In December, we focused on our neighbors, our communities, and our world.  In January, we focused on ourselves and healthier living.  This month, we’re going to extend the true confessions of our heart to those we love the very most.

I remember when my father was very ill several years ago.  In a medically induced coma for over a month, we all sat around wishing we could talk to him again and tell him all the ways he touched our lives and how much we loved him.  Wished we could once again laugh about the good times and regale stories of our years together.  We wished we could tell him we appreciated him.  Honored him.  And forgave any shortcomings he may or may not have had. 

When he recovered, by God’s divine grace, we were so grateful – and overwhelmed by how much tragedy reminds us of what we seem so often to forget:  say what you want to say now.  Not tomorrow.  Not next week.  Show your love now.  Don’t save it, don’t hoard it, don’t sit on it.  Give it away…love your family and show them how much you love them.

There is a saying, and it’s somber but beautiful. Love and cherish those that God gave you, because some day He will need them back.

On that note, I’d like to introduce you to February’s 29 Days of Love:

This month we’re going to work out Corinthians 13:4-7 in our homes (and families) and try to come to an understanding of what Love is really supposed to be – not just romantic love, as Hallmark would like you to think – but as we’ve been created for and with those precious people God has placed in our lives to be our family.  Let’s review…

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 records of wrongs

Love does not rejoice in evil but rejoices with the truth

It always protects

Always trusts

Always hopes

Always perseveres

Extend your patience in situations with your spouse, children, or even extended family.  Times when you otherwise might be prone to frustration, allow yourself to take a breath and extend patience. 

Offer kindness, when you’re instinct might be otherwise.  Help your kids with a big school project, even if they didn’t ask.  Set aside 30 minutes and love on your spouse.  Take 20 minutes and reach out to your parents or siblings – especially if you live far away from each other.  There are so many kindnesses to name – I’ll save those for below.

Envy is tough – because I think we all do this.  But instead, focus on the ways you are proud of your family.  Tell them!

Don’t boast about your own accomplishments this month – instead, focus on the ways your family has impressed you.  Be humble.

Love is not proud.  Be the first to apologize.  I don’t care if it’s a decade old argument, or a difference of opinion about which coffee is better.  Don’t be full of pride – and find the first way to say you were wrong, or you’re sorry, or that you probably didn’t handle a certain situation very well.

Don’t throw your loved ones under a bus.  Don’t talk about them behind their backs.  Don’t present them poorly to others.  Don’t dishonor them.  Love them by building them up, speaking highly of them, focusing on their good traits, and praising their accomplishments.

Love isn’t self-seeking.  Don’t do things to get something in return.  This month is not about what you get back or what happens when you do X.  It’s about showing love without any expectations. 

If you’re anything like me – you have a temper.  (I pray you’re nothing like me in this way)  I get heated up pretty quickly and I tend to express myself through volume.  Enough said.  The point is, love is not easily angered.  Spend this month working on your temper.  Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.  Remember October’s Challenge? 

Are you a grudge holder?  If you are, I urge you to take this month to let that baggage go.  Find ways to express that release.  Whether you write a letter of forgiveness and burn it.  Deliver it.  Write your grievance on a large rock and throw it to the bottom of the lake (i.e. letting it GO) or take that loved one to coffee and apologize for holding on to that and not forgiving them.  Let it go.  Anger and a lack of forgiveness are the seeds of despair and they keep us held in one spot – unable to grow and move forward with those we love.  Let it go.  Forgive.  Don’t keep a record of wrongs

Do not rejoice in evil, but rejoice with the truth.  I had to look this one up.  There are many translations of the word evil in this text and some of them are iniquity, wrong-doing, unrighteousness, and injustice.  Bottom line – don’t take part in wrong-doing, but extend love in truth.  No, I don’t mean husbands should tell their wives they DO look fat in those skinny jeans.  God forbid.  Wives, please stop asking your husbands that land-mine question!  Rather, don’t love your family with false actions or words.  Let your yes be yes and your no be no.  Love them with truth and justice.  Be intentional in your love and don’t compromise

Love protects – and that ties in to truth, and not dishonoring those you love.  Protect them.  Care for them.  Comfort them.  If your instinct is a negative remark, hold it back and think of how you can protect your spouse or loved one in that situation, while still offering truth in love. 

Trust.  This is a tough one for me.  We’ve all had hurts in our lives and we’ve all been hurt by others at some point.  But we must really resist the urge to hurt those we love with our mistrust of their intentions.  Transparently speaking, Anton has told me many times over that I look at a situation and apply the worst possible motives to his actions.  Example: he coming home late from work and I’m upset and accusing him on the phone of always leaving late, and keeping us waiting, and that we’re not important.  {drama!} Three minutes later he walks in the door with flowers in his hand.  He was late because he was taking care of me.  Not mistreating me.  But I assigned the worst possible motive to his delay.  This is what I mean.  And we all have different levels of trust that have been broken – but this is really important as marriage success can often hinge on trust being central.  Same goes for your relationships with your kids and family.  Don’t assume the worst.  Offer your support and trust, and only put energy into situations where there have been clear violations.  Don’t hang your hat on “what if”.

Hope.  I like to look at hope as having a positive outlook.  A hope for good and for the future.  Tie into that encouragement, and you’ve got a lot of love you can show.  Love has hope.  Don’t give up if the relationship with your loved ones isn’t stellar.  Have hope and be willing to do the hard stuff above to make that happen.  Protect yourself from abusive people, and stay emotionally healthy – but have hope!  Pray for peace where needed, and extend grace where you can.  Always try to see the good in those you love.

Love perseveres.  It just does.  This is not rocket science.  This is love at its core.  It doesn’t give up.  It’s always there.  Nothing can separate you from it.  Can you imagine loving your children less?  I can’t imagine loving my children more!  Love perseveres under all kinds of stress and heartache, loss and doubt, good times and bad, hardship and brokenness…it never fails!  Love concurs all.  Nothing my children could ever do would make me love them less.  My love for them will stand true for the rest of my life on this earth.  That’s the nature of love.  God designed it to be so…and He showed us exactly what that looks like in His Word.

In addition to showing the Corinthians love, we can demonstrate tangible versions of our love in lots of fun and endearing and even helpful ways.  My next post will highlight lots of brainstorming ideas and fun ways to express yourself this month to those you love.  Be thinking of the Corinthians passage and ponder on the ways you can work on one, two, or all of the items above.  I know these aren’t easy – but where’s the challenge in easy? 

Let’s have some fun showing love for the next 29 Days!  Who’s with me?