To Say I Love You: a letter

to say i love you a letter link up My dear husband,

It is said that women need to experience that they are known and loved, while men need to experience that they are known and respected. To respect you is to love you and to love you is to honor you. On this quest of wifery and learning to love you by respecting and honoring you, I think I may have a slight grasp on what it looks like to love you...for now.

To say I love you is to genuinely laugh at the jokes you share again and again. It is to see your humor and continuously fall for your quirky quips. It is to love your antics forevermore and remember the bliss they brought me in the beginning. This is something I have been working on, loving the one liners that I have heard for four years, and to be honest, I am falling for them again.

To say I love you is to smile at you from across the room, declaring the truth that I am yours and I approve of you. I see you and I know you and I cherish you. Sending you flashes of grins and pearly whites lets you know that I approve. I am remembering more and more to smile and grin and let you know that I have your back, that I love the words you are sharing, especially when you are preaching or teaching things about Him.

To say I love you is to support you in front of others. Friends and family and foreigners alike. It means that I don't correct you when I know  think you're wrong. It means I do not let the world know that you stretched the truth to make a story a bit funnier. And by George, I am horrible at loving you in this way. Will you give me grace to grow?

To say I love you is to put my phone down and be fully present. To give you the gift of myself and let you know that I am all ears, all eyes, all heart. My presence is something I often withhold from you, while I am busy crossing off tasks, sending emails, reading, or writing. Oh how I know I will regret these decisions if I do not slow down and tell you that I love you by giving you myself. My whole self. My attention. The gift of my presence is something I am becoming more and more aware of. Help me with patience?

To say I love you is to trust you. To trust that you will do what you say you will. To trust that you have integrity and pure motives.

To say I love you is to let you read at night before we doze off into the land of dreams. It is to compromise close snuggles every night and agree that every other night works just fine. Forgive me for the times I demand snuggles out of your warm self when you are dying to get into your long awaiting novel.

To say I love you is to notice you. Ask you about your day, inquire about your meetings and ministry, to wonder about your new gadgets and toys. To be into whatever you're into. To cherish whatever you cherish.

To say I love you is to love myself. This is a difficult one for me to understand, but you continuously tell me. It means that I surrender to the Truth [that I share with so many] and reject the lies that I am worthless, stupid, incapable. Loving you by loving myself means taking breaks, cleaning our home, baking treats, and going on runs.

To say I love you is to save our extra dimes and nickels for books that you are eager to read, but patient to wait for.

To say I love you is so many things and so much more than stating words with empty actions. Simply and mighty, these things I am learning, will change our marriage. If I choose to walk them out and pursue them...until death do us part.

To say I love you is to give you my hand in marriage; to present my heart, mind, and body as yours; to remain yours and yours alone through sickness and in health, with wealth and with poverty, for as long as we both shall live. To say I love you is to grow wrinkly with you

Help me grow in loving you.

Forever Yours,

NB

 

 

Dying to myself in marriage - What?

a blog post on marriage I was recently posed with this question, "How do I share a bed and a bathroom? How do I share my coffee? HOW DO I LIVE WITH A MAN?

The thing I've come back to so many times during our marriage is dying to myself. It is so easy to become pig headed and hurtful, throwing vicious words like daggers and ferocious glares like arrows. When a discussion doesn't go my way, it is often too easy to be stuck up and stubborn, prideful and rude. Thinking my way is best, my way or the highway, doofus.

[Oh the ugliness that ensues when self is in control of me, rather than Spirit]

Over and over again, I must die to myself. I must say, "Self, the world and this marriage does not revolve around you: I know, hard to swallow."

To die to self is to listen and exist where the other is at. Whether that is in joy, in trial, in happiness, in sorrow, in frustrating days and victorious days...go to where they are and be there. Be present, be with, know.

To die to self is to swallow the need to prove oneself right or correct. Is crushing someone's spirit so that you can prove you're better/smarter/cooler/more Awesome in correct-ness really worth it? Is proving yourself right to humiliate someone else satisfying?

To die to self is to ask forgiveness, to admit that you hurt the other person - and that was wrong. That was unloving. That was selfish. Sometimes it takes going into the other room and breathing deeply, asking Jesus to calm your wildly beating heart that is turning hard as stone. For me, it often means asking God to humble me, to soften that stoney heart. Which is painful at times, even humiliating. Because in those moments I am admitting that I was wrong, I am imperfect, I can be mean and cruel and unloving. I am selfish. But in those moments when we are raw and honest and broken and humiliated...then we are dying to self and ready to ask forgiveness. Ready to apologize. Ready for restoration. That is where a relationship can flourish.

dying to self marriage blog post

To die to self is to serve the other, to see them as valuable, important, human. To give 100% and expect 0. What I mean by this is that dying to self means loving unconditionally. Without conditions. Without strings attached. To serve and sacrifice without the, "Only if/because he ______." To serve unconditionally is to surpass human capability and you will need Something, Someone, greater to teach you and give you the will power to do so on a continual basis. That is where it gets hard...the continual part.

To die to self is to acknowledge that you, me, I am not in fact the most important thing for this universe.

I cannot imagine not having Jesus. Not having His guidance, example, and Spirit to strengthen me in these times of self-denial would make it impossible. He is the ultimate sacrificer, the ultimate self-denier, the ultimate giver of self. Only He can give me and you the strength we need to die to ourself and see others as more important, as valuable, as human.

If you find yourself reading this and are an unmarried being, don't disregard. This is for you too. This little reminder is for every human in every relationship.

 

the other morning's sunrise outside of our patio apartment

 

NOTE: I am not saying that you must be a doormat. I also am not talking about abusive relationships. That is completely different. I am talking about two people, committed to one another, and covenanting to sacrifice for and serve one another. Not for their own gain, but out of complete and utter selfless love.

 

Day 21: Building Respect Habits

Day 20Day 21: Admire Him 25 Days of Building Respect Habits

I adore Loren. I admire him for many reasons: his pursuit and unending love for Jesus, his humility, his grace, his hard-working soul, the way he sacrifices for something bigger than himself, the list could go on. I am sure you admire your husband for some of the same reasons: why would you have married him?

I often tell Loren these things, reminding him how much I appreciate his heart and effort in our marriage. I send notes in his lunch, I text him through the day, and you know what? Sometimes I just stare at him and smile. He will look up from the book he is reading and smile back, offering me to come sit with him. I know it must touch his soul when he sees his woman smiling at him with adoration - who wouldn't be swooned? Loren blesses my heart by doing the same; when I notice he does something continuously that makes me a healthier wife and person, I soon realize I should reciprocate that. Most likely, it will build him up, if he is using it to build me up. Smile at your husband, voice why you appreciate and admire him. Look at him with respectful, appreciative, longing eyes. Think kind thoughts towards him, and always always pray for him. He will see the admiration in your eyes.

Today reflect and internalize this verse: A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Day 22

 

Day 19: Building Respect Habits

Read Day 18 HEREDay 19: Be Content 25 Days of Building Respect Habits

Loren is not a huge run-in-the-woods, risk-your-life, hunting sort of man. I grew up in a small town {part of my life in a forest where cougars crossed our driveway} and we went hunting for animals bigger than us: bears, elk, deer, antelope..and of course the smaller than us birds, ducks, and rabbits. Although these weren't among my favorite things to do, I enjoyed them, and always assumed I would marry someone who would take me with him to hunt, hike, and tent camp. I grew up thinking hunting was the only way to eat meat: hunt for it, skin it, pack it & eat it.

I married an amazing man who grew up in a city and has never killed a fly. His first time tent camping was a week into our marriage. His first run through the woods he thought bears would eat him. He is nothing what I assumed {when I was 10} that I would marry and guess what's awesome?  I am 100% content with that. I love the life we are living, the life we pursue. Sometimes I catch myself in arrogance about my "experiences" - and then I am humbled by his humility and grace. I am caught up in thanksgiving that he is so much more than I ever dreamed, and that is because I didn't dream of having a man COMPLETELY SOLD OUT FOR JESUS.

Whether your man is a city man or a wild man, a practically-logically-thinking man or a charismatic-feely-sporatic man, be blessed that he is your man. Whether he is a church planter, a small town pastor, a diesel mechanic, a construction worker, or works part time, be blessed that he is by your side through the thick and the thin. Rest in the assurance that he is yours and you are his, and together you are pursuing this life together. All that other stuff: titles, positions, salary, paychecks, those are all so temporary. Be content with the friendship you are able to cultivate, the babies you have or dream of having, the safety of vulnerability with someone.

You are wonderfully made and defined by Jesus' love for you - not you nor your husband's job, paycheck, nor the apartment or mansion you live in. Be content and be blessed deeply by that.

"Do not pressure your husband to keep up with the Jonses. Take satisfaction in the lifestyle he is able to provide for you," -Jennifer

Today, as we focus on building the habit of being content, thank your husband for the life you two have. Thank him for the home you are building together and remind him that he is enough. Don't complain about things, choose joy, and

Today, pray and internalize these verses: "But godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6 "Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you."" Hebrews 13:5

Read our view of money as well as our budgeting system HERE!

Day 18: Building Respect Habits

Read Day 17 HEREDay 18: Keep the House Tidy 25 Days of Building Respect Habits

Growing up, our house always felt so cluttered and dirty. Dishes dirty all over the kitchen, cups everywhere, beer bottles, unfolded clothes all over the couch and floor, too much stuff that was unneeded everywhere... I remember the laundry room being an overwhelming mess of dirty and clean clothes, games, and STUFF. It was the "junk room" as opposed  to the junk drawer (we had many of those as well!). Looking back, I am sure this is because my mom worked so hard as a Real Estate agent and was exhausted by the time she got home so late. However! I will never forget the feeling of living in a chaotic home.

When I {officially} moved out, I became obsessed with being organized. Having only a desk and a small wardrobe to keep tidy, I did what I could. Moving into a house, I then shared a bedroom with my now-sister-in-law. There I loosened a bit about tidiness, but still highly valued it. Now as a wife, I get to fully manage this! I love keeping our home tidy and clean - it brings an atmosphere of welcome and acceptance. However, I have experienced some homes SO tidy and SO clean that it feels just the opposite: you get the dont-touch-or-ruin-anything vibe. That is the opposite of what I want. I pray that my friends with babies and children feel completely welcome in our home - that they can bring their kids and I truly don't mind if our books and VHS/DVD's are strewn everywhere.

Moral of the story is this: I highly value keeping our home clean and welcoming, but also have grown in not being OCD if something gets out of place. Really, is it that important?

I know that coming home to a clean and put-together home is a gift and that it relieves tension - it creates a love for being home.  I hope to always give that to my husband. I love what Sharaya wrote here about her mom teaching her that cleaning was loving to her dad - that as a wife, she (her mom) wanted to prepare her home for husband (her dad) to come home after a busy day at work. The kids joined in and it became a beautiful routine! I pray and hope to do that when we have kidddos.

"To the best of your abilities, try to maintain a clean and orderly home. Seek to make it a haven of rest for your entire family," -Jennifer from the original post.

Today, internalize and pray this verse: "She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness." Proverbs 31:27

 

Day 11: Building Respect Habits

(Read Day 10 HERE)Day 11: Eyes Only For Him 25 Days of Building Respect

Jennifer said, "Don’t compare your husband unfavorably to other men, real or imaginary. It is neither fair nor respectful and will only breed trouble and discontent. Avoid watching movies or reading books that might cause you to stumble in this area, as well."

I have never had a problem with this, BUT I do fall short in reminding Loren that I only have eyes for him. Reminding him that he is wonderful in my eyes. That he is manly and inspiring and leading me towards Jesus. Oh ladies, let me tell you: whenever I remember to affirm my man in this, he BEAMS! I love to see my man beam.

Remember not to be shocked at his abilities and talents, while being confident in other mens' talents & abilities. As a rule of thumb, assume your husband knows how to do everything and when he can't do something, then be shocked. Build that man up! Let your man know your desires and eyes are for him and him alone; that you're proud to be his wife at his side.

Today's scriptures: Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you,O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else,for it determines the course of your life.

Read Day 12 HERE

20140228-203832.jpg Photo from last nights beautiful sunset!

Day 10: Building Respect Habits {Respond Physically}

(Read Day 9 HERE)Day Ten: RESPOND PHYSICALLY 25 Days of Building Respect Habits

Today is the day, ladies. Men, if you're reading, don't you dare hold this over her head, but be blessed with her heart.

I know that as a childless newlywed I have a lot to learn from life. But today, I see the high importance of this. Today, I note that physically blessing my husband is a top priority. I have learned that when we are intimate, my heart feels closer to his and he is much more serving towards me. Not that it is a if-this, then-that transaction; but his heart is softened, his muscles relaxed, and he is able to clearly think of ways to serve me.

Jennifer said: "Did you know that the way you respond (or don’t respond) to your husband’s romantic overtures has a profound effect on his self-confidence? Don’t slap him away when he tries to hug you or make excuses when he’s in the mood. Your enthusiastic cooperation and reciprocation will not only assure him of your love, but will make him feel well-respected, too."

Wives: you are beautiful. You are wonderfully made. Your husband delights in your body. I am nowhere near great at remembering this, but I do work hard to remind myself. Nothing is attractive about, "Oh but my hips. Oh but my inner thigh. Oh butt..." Loren made a rule in our home: no dissing our bodies. He gets real angry if I complain about myself. Honestly, isn't there so much more to life that we need to think about? Bless your husband by seeing the beauty he sees - and if you don't see it, bless him by trying to and shutting your mouth about it. There are some extremely curvy women who are SEX-Y! How? Because they rock what they've got. They walk in the beauty that has been given to them. Can we trust that Jesus has made us beautifully?

I beg you to read this article, written by a man. It should open your eyes and bless your marriage. Ten Things Every Husband Wishes His Wife Knew About Sex. One quote I absolutely loved was: "If your husband is working hard to avert his eyes from every other sexual source besides his wife, not viewing any porn, not checking out the girl on the billboard, etc - he has a God-given need/desire/appetite to admire his wife’s naked body."

Today I will be sure not to push Loren away when he hugs me while I am attempting to do the dishes or cook dinner. I will be sure to soak in that love and affection, noting how precious I am to his heart.

Today's verse is huge and plays in my head so frequently: 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 "The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control."

Read 25 Ways to Communicate Respect Read Day 11 HERE

Photo by Tim Monson

Day 9: Building Respect Habits

(Read Day 8 HERE)Day Nine: Smile At Him 25 Days of Building Respect Habits

Smiles spread happiness. Smiles have even been shown to create happiness. Smiles are contagious. And a smile makes any woman more beautiful, ain't that the truth!

Last night I asked Loren what it does to him when I smile at him. I kid you not, he broke into an opera-like song, singing deep and high, using hand motions and all. "It makes my heart soaaarrr. I feel like I'm praaaancing through the flowery fieeelds. It makes me haaapppyyy. Ohhhh I am soaring on winggggssss. I'm on a mouuuntaiin. Your smile is so perfectttt. Please always smiiile."

Ladies. Smile! It can change your mood and attitude, it can change your husbands day. It can change anyone's day! Smile all day everyday. Smile genuinely. While you're at it, remind him what he is good at. Build him up and remember what's important to him.

Be blessed today, and smile!

Proverbs 31:12, 25 "She brings him {her husband} good, not harm,all the days of her life. She is clothed with strength and dignity,and she laughs without fear of the future."

 

20140226-212317.jpgRead Day 10 HERE

Day 8: Building Respect Habits

(Read Day 7 HERE)Day Eight: Be Thankful 25 Days of Building Respect Habits

The byproduct of being thankful is joy. Today we hammer down two habitats in one and our husbands shall be blessed!

I want to pause and encourage you. It has been a week - a full 7 days of training our minds, hearts, and actions to serve our spouse. I applaud you! You are running the race and choosing glory, choosing the higher purpose of marriage. Do not be discouraged, friend. Even if you haven't seen the fruit of this habit-building yet, I am sure it is to come! Continue praying for your spouse, let your heart turn towards him. And always, always lean hard into Jesus. He can handle it - He will uphold you when you feel weak, when you feel as though you've given your all. Lean into Him and allow His strength to build you up! You are so loved.

Be thankful today, for the big and obvious as well as the small and minute. Be thankful for the ugly-beautiful: find ways to give thanks even when in the midst of trial. Whether it's screaming kids or a demanding boss, find reasons to give thanks - even something as simple as your child's cowlick that has been there since birth! In giving thanks our attitudes will be that of gratitude, we will be so joyful that it will flow into others! Including out husbands. Give thanks for your husband; choose to see ways to give thanks.

I invite you to read Day 9 HERE

Read 25 ways to communicate respect here