Tag Archives: Start Again

A Message of Hope From the Manger

The farmhouse is only half decorated.  We put up a lot of twinkle lights: on the fireplace mantel, sprawled across the buffet, outside on the front porch, and on the Christmas tree, but that’s the bulk of my decorating. Twinkling lights everywhere kind of make up for the lack of other decorations, in my mind. (Also a fire crackling in the fireplace. And hot cocoa in pretty mugs. That’s perfect decorating, right there.)

Oh, and I also got a wreath from Trader Joe’s and put it on the smokehouse outside (which everyone thinks is an outhouse building, when they first drive into the farm.) While we were at Trader Joe’s, the cashier saw my daughter and I in deliberation over a new brand of cookies. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get them.

He opened the canister and  said, “Go ahead, try them out first.” The two senior ladies checking out behind me heard the cashier’s words and came over to peek at the cookies. I motioned them to join in and we had an impromptu tea party, right then and there, courtesy of Trader Joe’s. Honestly, the generosity and cheerfulness of the place was so heart warming. My daughter and I walked out of there, wheeling our full cart, and singing “Joy to the World, the Lord has Come” at the top of our voice.

I so love Christmas. But I’m already eagerly anticipating New Year’s Day, the day of fresh beginnings and new resolutions.

It’s actually because of what we celebrate on Christmas Day, that I do look forward to what comes next. It’s not just the birth of the Savior, but His overcoming life He lived- and lives through us today- that we celebrate. And emulate.

And here’s His trajectory:

From the humble manger—> to influencing the whole wide world.

So don’t despise the day of small beginnings, Zachary 4:10 tells us. You can add to that,  Don’t despise the day of:

  • humble beginnings
  • insignificant beginnings
  • troubled beginnings

Do you know the opposite of the word despise? It’s

Those are all the words we need to apply to our humble beginning, our shaky start we made to any dream we felt called to. And it’s never too late to get back in the saddle of any dream we had set aside, out of discouragement, and start moving forward with it again.

If we don’t despise Jesus’ birth in the lowly manger (but instead we respect and cherish that scene), then we shouldn’t despise ourselves or our own humble, meager beginning…of anything.

That start of your dream? That shaky beginning you made when you went back to school? That relationship you wanted to build on the solid ground of integrity and love? Don’t despise it. Don’t disparage yourself or hang your head down in shame. Don’t kick yourself, or let anyone else kick you, if you’re down or not on track– because you’re not out of the running, friend. It’s not too late.

It’s time to accept your past, cherish that dream you have, that calling to help and give back, that desire to love again. And respect yourself, your humble beginning; and respect the process that is at work.

We go from strength to strength, Scripture tells us. From the manger, then out to impact a whole wide world.

I’ve got a big dream– with a humble, seemingly insignificant beginning. And you do too.

Pick that broken dream back up and get on with what you know you want your life to be about.  Forget how much you stumbled about in the beginning, how you missed connections or lost your way.

Move forward with God leading you, from the place of the manger scene, and out to the whole wide world.

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Romance After the Wedding: Are We Expecting Too Much?

We all long for the passion and romance of when we first fell in love. In the early days of a budding love story, romantic moments are all over the place. But what should our expectation be, though, after we’ve been married one year, 10 years or 30 years?

Does romance have to die out and be replaced with apathy and boredom?

Maybe it’s time to redefine romance, particularly romance in marriage. It’s more than roses and romantic words!

What Is Romance, Really?

Romance is about doing something for your loved one that is special, unexpected or exciting. But over time, what we’ve come to view as romance now comes from what Hollywood and big business is selling to us: the extravagant fine dining experience with waiters hovering by, exquisite French chocolates and dozens of roses, and even the huge engagement ring with extra size bling.

While there is nothing wrong with fine dining, French chocolates or giving a beautiful diamond ring, these extravagant experiences and gifts in the earlier stages of a relationship can later lead to unrealistic expectations for Romance in marriage.

In Scripture, there are no romantic scenes in the way we’ve come to define romance. But there are examples of romantic, passionate love; like the way Jacob worked for his prospective father-in-law for seven years to win the hand of his bride. The Bible tells us those seven years “seemed like only a few days to him because his love for her was so great.”(Genesis 29:20) From Jacob, we learn that true Romance is unexpected, utter devotion that perseveres.

Or, take the story of the young widow Ruth and the noble land owner Boaz. The tenderness with which he treats her and protects her honor shows that romance is about the highest good and special care we offer our loved one.

A Different Kind Of Romance

In my case, one of my favorite romantic moments occurred when I was pregnant with our first child. I was in my first trimester and very ill. I couldn’t keep anything down. I was reduced to bed rest and became somewhat depressed. Several days went by and I hadn’t even showered or done my hair, that’s how despondent I was feeling.

My husband called the doctor and told them he was bringing me in against my wishes to just be left in my bed. Then, he carefully lifted me up in his strong arms and carried me to the bathroom where he had a tub of hot, sudsy water waiting for me. Against my weak protests, he placed me in the tub and then kneeled by it and began to shampoo my hair. The hot water was soothing and so was my husband’s tenderness toward me. He knew how depressed I was feeling, and to lighten the mood, he pretended to be a French hair dresser and spoke in this ridiculous accent. I began to weakly smile for the first time in weeks.

He won my heart all over again that day, and it definitely wasn’t with chocolates or roses. While it would never classify as a romantic moment in the eyes of Hollywood or Hallmark, it is one of my cherished memories of feeling such love for my husband because of the way he cared for me – and isn’t that the goal of true romance?

Next To My Heart

Many times we get sloppy in marriage or in heated arguments over the lack of fun or who is not trying enough. Especially if you are looking for the quintessential displays of romance, you might miss the subtle romantic signs that you are being cherished.

Recently I watched the new BBC series, Victoria, about the real life marriage of Queen Victoria and her beloved Prince Albert. There’s a scene from their courtship where the two are dancing together and she gives him the corsage she is wearing.

He mentions he has no place to put the corsage, but then suddenly takes a knife out of his boot and calmly cuts open his shirt and places the flower in the hole “next to my heart.” Viewers have been all in a tizzy over the passionate and historically accurate scene. And it was borne out of something that Albert unexpectedly did for her because of what he felt for her, in that very moment.

Ignite the Romance Again

So part of igniting romance is expressing our deep feelings, as transparently as possible. We have no problem doing that when we first fall in love, but then 10 or 20 years later, we somehow forget the essence of romance. And it starts when we open our mouths and speak the tender thoughts that run through our head, or take the action that will show our spouse that we care deeply for them.

It can be a fragrant burning candle at dinner time and a note left under your husband’s dinner plate, telling him how much you admire him and appreciate him. Or romance can ignite in a crowded room, when you suddenly lean over and whisper in your wife’s ear the reason why you choose her over all the women there.

Because Romance is more than chocolates and roses. It’s about the special, unexpected, or exciting moments when your heart is full and you put that love into action or words. It’s about recognizing the beauty and lasting nature of your love for each other. And then, in that moment, choosing to show that you’ve seen your spouse for who they are: the love of your life.

 

(Read this article of mine and more Relationship articles at Believe )