Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. The season of love, roses and chocolate is knocking at the door with promises of best day ever, soul mates and happily ever after.
Love and marriage are as old as time. And like the Frank Sinatra song goes, "love and marriage, love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage..." they are meant for each other.
As we head into this season of love, let's remind ourselves of the most impactful way we can grow our relationship with God and our spouse. That is through prayer.
We are quick to read the latest book on marriage, attend the marriage conference at church or even a couple's weekend away. We can even be intentional about being committed to and serving our spouse. But what we actually need more of, and what will significantly impact our relationship, is to take time to pray over our marriage. Even if you have the perfect marriage, and I don't know anyone who does, it still needs to be bathed in prayer!
"Our modern-day world provides every convenience we could ever possibly imagine, and then some. Our gadgets allow us to watch almost every movie ever made from the convenience of our handheld devices while we wait at the airport boarding gate. We can answer e-mail as we wait in the carpool line, and our offices are composed of a thirteen-inch screen that we can carry into the kitchen so we can keep working while we start dinner. We have automated so many features of our lives, and yet instead of spending that reserved time for something enjoyable or fulfilling, we fill it with longer to-do lists. Our workweeks are longer, not shorter, as was predicted half a century ago."
This post is going to reiterate the theme from Tuesday's One Thousand Gifts and a Lifestyle of Gratitude. Both encourage us to slow down and live intentionally. I need this!
I read Tsh Oxenreider book Notes from a Blue Bike last summer on vacation, at the beach. It seemed like an appropriate time and place to read a book about slowing down and living intentionally.
Notes from a Blue Bike made a significant impact on my life, and my thinking. Just as I was beginning this blog, I also needed a reminder to slow down. Seems somewhat like an oxymoron. However, I do believe reading the book has made me a more intentional person. I take more time now to notice and be grateful for the small graces along life's path. I'm more intentional about looking for the divine opportunities― opportunities that may only come by once. And that's really the important part of intentional living for me.
“Do whatever it takes to increase your sensitivity to the little things in life you wouldn’t otherwise notice, much less savor. If your autopilot setting is hurry. you’ve got to power down frequently enough to enjoy the effects of intentional living.”
My autopilot setting is for sure on hurry! And I quite frequently have to reevaluate to see if the choices I'm make are lining up with the intentional lifestyle I want to live. Living intentionally requires specific choices, it's just not going to happen by default.
Life can be chaotic, but we can choose to live it differently. It doesn’t always feel like it, but we do have the freedom to creatively change how we live. We can change the everyday little choices in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions.
"The popular blogger and founder of the internationally recognized Simple Mom online community tells the story of her family’s ongoing quest to live more simply, fully, and intentionally.
Part memoir, part travelogue, part practical guide, Notes from a Blue Bike takes you from a hillside in Kosovo to a Turkish high-rise to the congested city of Austin to a small town in Oregon. It chronicles schooling quandaries and dinnertime dilemmas, as well as entrepreneurial adventures and family excursions via plane, train, automobile, and blue cruiser bike.
Entertaining and compelling—but never shrill or dogmatic, Notes from a Blue Bike invites you to climb on your own bike, pay attention to who you are and what your family needs, and make some important choices.
It’s a risky ride, but it’s worth it—living your life according to who you really are simply takes a little intention. It’s never too late." ―goodreads
I really enjoyed reading about the Oxenreider's travels, especially with a house full of children. Not just travels, but complete pick-up-and-moves! From Kosovo to Turkey to Austin, Texas and finally to the little town of Bend, Oregon, all along the way making choices to live with intention.
"Most of life’s decisions don’t come with black-and-white answers, and that’s a beautiful, marvelous thing. We’re each given freedom to choose our decisions, and that responsibility is the very definition of living with intention, after all: making daily choices so that your life lines up with your passions and values. It should all make sense in your head."
Living intentionally begins simply with everyday choices. This lifestyle is a topic that has really been on my mind lately. It's at the heart of these last two blog posts. I've got a lot on my plate right now. I'm sure you do as well. If we're not careful, all that stuff cluttering our minds will takeover our world. That clutter will make things complicated where there could be, and should be, simple. The journey can become just a hop from one task to another, from one to-do list item to the next. We find no time to look around for the goodness of God and divine opportunities that lie in our path.
If there's one takeaway from the book it's that we can live intentionally in every area of our lives. It's simply a choice to do so.
God's timing couldn't be more perfect! There's probably no stage in my life that I needed Notes from a Blue Bike more. The theme of living intentionally, seeking out and praying for divine opportunities to share the love of Christ continues to be on my mind. Life isn't about us. It isn't about our careers or the things we own. It's about relationships.
“People are willing to be brave when they admit their smallness within the enormity of the world, and the best way to understand our smallness is to leave our comfort zones and start exploring, one foot in front of the other.”
Tsh knows all too well the enormity of the world with all their travels and living in different parts of it. She's also acquainted with comfort zones, and getting out of them. Which most of us, including myself, find difficult.
As she documents family life, including the husband wife and parent child relationship, she breaks her book down into seven parts. Awakening, Food, Work, Education, Travel, Entertainment, and Revival. No matter where you are in life, anywhere from single to empty nester, there's something to learn from Notes from a Blue Bike.
In many ways I feel the term “live intentionally” has been so overused. We can read it and miss its meaning completely. To really take living intentionally seriously, there needs to be a plan. We can't just say it because it’s a popular thing to say. We have to live it. We have to make choices that align with it. Planning a lifestyle of intentional living requires creativity and saying no to good things in order to say yes to better things.
"...listening to that still, small voice that says, This is you. That voice you hear? I think it's a little nudge to wander down that one path, which thereby gives you permission to ignore the other path. God made a lot of people, and if He wanted us all the same, well, He didn't do a very good job. I'm fairly convinced He tapped into His creativity when He made us." ―Tsh Oxenreider, Notes from a Blue Bike
It's almost wedding planning season for a lot of people out there. Maybe you are one of those people. If you are, BLESS YOU HEART! I hope this little planner might be a help to you.
The Wedding Planner Checklist (A Portable Guide to Organizing your Dream Wedding) is sold by Peter Pauper Press, which I find very apropos! However, as wedding planners go, it's quite inexpensive (it will be the best $8 you spend on your wedding) and has been everything we need in a wedding planner.
So what kind of plans are you making to live intentionally?
Cookie bake off? Check. Kids' presents? Check. Christmas cards? Check. Stocking stuffers? Check. Shopping for Christmas dinner? Check. As Christmas day draws near, the to-do list seems to get longer and longer. Our energy is zapped and the focus is no longer on what's really important. Only a few days out from the big day and we find ourselves in the midst of commitment overload! How do we stay focused on the important stuff like what we're really celebrating and staying connected as a couple?
This Christmas, for the first time in 35 years, my husband and I will find ourselves alone on Christmas morning. The kids are all adults now. If you find yourself in this new season of life, or maybe you're a newlywed couple, this post is for you!
"Let's start a new tradition." I said recently to my husband. How do you start new traditions when you've been married for 35 years? My first, crazy thought was, "Let's plant a tree!" I Googled "trees you can plant in Georgia in the winter." Results: carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabaga, onions, cabbage, leaf lettuce, spinach. First, none of these are what I had in mind. Second, none of these are trees! Then my husband pointed out that we only have a couple acres at our forever home. Planting a tree every Christmas for the rest of our lives may not be practical. As usual, he's right.
Planting a tree sounded like a good idea. However, in reality it isn't the time of year for that sort of thing and like my hubs said, it's really not practical. So I surveyed some social media friends. I asked them to share the Christmas traditions that help them stay connected as a couple during this busy season.
So during the busyness of the Christmas season how do we stay focused on the important things as a couple? One way is by establishing a new tradition that not only celebrates the birth of our Savior, but also the strength of our love for each other.
Christmas is about love, the love of God Who came to earth as a baby to live with His creation and provide a pathway to salvation. Christmas isn’t just for kids, it's for adults too. So let’s talk today about starting that new Christmas tradition, just for the two of you.
If you're not sure what kind of tradition to start, check out this list. There's something special here for you whether you have been married for 35 years or you're a newlywed couple looking to start a new tradition all your own. Or maybe you are looking for something fun to do once the kids are all tucked away in bed. We hope this list of 10 meaningful Christmas traditions for Christian couples will give you a fresh perspective. These are just a few ideas to get you started and get the wheels of creativity in your mind turning. As you read them, we hope you'll find inspiration for your own journey as a couple!
10 meaningful Christmas traditions for Christian couples
I am so in love with the idea of writing each other a love letter! The art of handwritten letters and notes is fading fast. I still have love letters my husband wrote me more than 35 years ago. These are precious to me! Imagine the delight of your children when they dig through your special keepsake drawer some day and find love letters. A father and mother that truly love each other as God loves us is one of the best gifts you can give your children.
Breakfast in bed is always a treat and there's so many wonderful Christmas movies out there. One of my personal favorites is It Happened on Fifth Avenue. I can see myself all snuggled up on Christmas morning with a good cup of coffee watching a Christmas move with my husband.
Giving each other a meaningful Christmas ornament that sums up the year is another great idea. I was recently in Hobby Lobby and noticed all the specialty ornaments. I even saw a broccoli ornament. Seriously, there's a broccoli ornament! If you can't find an ornament here to sum up your year I don't know where else you'd find it.
A winter hike and Christmas photo sounds like a delightful idea, especially if you're the outdoor type. It may also help you get some exercise before you consume all those calories at Christmas dinner.
A gift of service, an act of kindness as a couple is ALWAYS a good idea, whether it's Christmas or not.
Writing a thank you note to someone who has influenced your relationship for good this year. Reviewing the year in thankfulness for all that God has done for you as a couple. Both of these will open up a beautiful conversation about His goodness.
Sharing a truth you have learned about God. Choosing a new life verse for the upcoming year. Talking about what God is doing in your life and what you'd like to see Him do in the future. These are the traditions that tug at my heartstrings. That's actually three different traditions on the list, but I've combined them into one and this is what we will be doing on Christmas morning.
Traditions are super important for families and for couples. They foster both unity and bonding and promote togetherness. Marriage isn’t always easy, we all know that. Taking the time to create traditions and memories, just the two of you, will do wonders for marriage. It will also give you lots of good memories to look back on, and when these traditions and memories are centered around God, that's even better!
We hope you'll use the ideas on this list as a springboard of inspiration and start your own new Christmas tradition this season. Traditions can be sweet, silly, romantic or all of these. They don’t last if they're forced, so find one that works for you and your spouse. It may take some trial and error. Some of the best traditions are unplanned and start naturally. Even if you have no plan, be sure to set aside some time to spend with your spouse this Christmas. If you are one of those couples who are unable to be together on Christmas day, make your own Christmas celebration on whatever day you can be together.
The most important thing about what we celebrate at Christmas was established over 2000 years ago when God came down to dwell with His creation! So this Christmas, let's celebrate that unconditional love and let's also celebrate togetherness as a couple!
What traditions do you and your spouse share?
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