Matters of the Heart

We have been doing an interesting study through Deuteronomy on Sunday mornings during class. It is interesting to note that Jesus quoted from this book more than any other.  A few weeks ago we looked at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in conjunction with passages from Deuteronomy.  Our lesson was about the Spirit of the Law.

There are a lot of misconceptions about God’s Law.   I have seen an attitude of indifference towards it that is often fostered by easy believism and the prosperity gospel.  Its faulty thinking goes like this: “The law does not matter, we live under grace.”  This is often followed by: “Don’t be so legalistic.  We’re not under the law.”  Or, “Jesus did away with the law.”  This thought is wrong for several reasons.  First, Jesus did not do away with the law; He fulfilled it.  Also, obedience is not the definition of legalism.  In addition, God’s moral law still exists.   It reveals our sin.  What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. (Rom 7:7)

In fact, the biblical definition of sin is transgression (or breaking) of the law.  Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1Jn 3:4) And it only takes the breaking of one law to be guilty.  The book of James states that whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (Jas 2:10)

 Paul tells us that the unregenerate are still under the law and that by the law they become guilty before God.  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (Rom 3:19)  But thanks be to God that the saved have been made free from the law of sin and death!  (Romans 8:2)

 So where does the spirit of the law come in?  Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount not only elevates the standards of the law, but it shows the spirit of the law.  In Matthew 5:17 Jesus said that He has come to fulfill the law.  In verse 20 He said that unless our righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (the law keepers and most religious of the time) that we would not enter into heaven.  Further down He quotes the law from Deuteronomy and contrasts the Old Testament interpretation of the law with the spirit of the law.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Mat 5:21-22)

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Mat 5:27-28)

Why would Christ put the thought of murder or adultery equivalent to the act?  The answer is simple.  It is because God is concerned with our heart.  Sometimes we live as though we forget that there are internal sins as well as external.  There are sins of omission as well as sins of commission.  Our hearts are important.  Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man…” (Mat 15:19-20)

In our prideful state we think that if we look good on the outside and don’t commit those “acts” that it doesn’t matter what’s in our heart or our thoughts.  Oh, how easy it is to fool others.   How foolish it is to think that we can fool God.  He (Jesus) answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. (Mar 7:6)

As a parent I desire nothing more than for my children to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.  My standards for my children are high, because God’s standards for His children are high.  (Matthew 5:48)  But, I have to be careful in my endeavor to raise godly children that I don’t create little Pharisees.  (Those who keep the law but whose hearts are far from God.)  In truth, it is easier to teach children to obey “laws” than to teach them to follow the “spirit of the law.”  But really it’s the heart that matters.

Several years ago I found online a list of family rules that I want to share.  (I’m not sure of the source, so if anyone knows where they came from let me know.  I will be happy to give credit due.)  These family rules have been posted on our refrigerator and referred to often.  What I love about these rules is that they are not just a list of do’s and don’ts.  The focus of each is on the heart, the spirit of the law.  I hope they can be a blessing to you and your family.

 1. We obey God.
2. We love, honor and pray for one another.
3. We tell the truth.
4. We consider one another’s interests ahead of our own.
5. We speak quietly and respectfully with one another.
6. We do not hurt one another with unkind words or deeds.
7. When someone needs correction, we correct him in love.
8. When someone is sorry, we forgive him.
9. When someone is sad, we comfort him.
10. When someone is happy, we rejoice with him.
11. When we have something nice to share, we share it.
12. When we have work to do, we do it without complaining.
13. We take good care of everything that God has given us.
14. We do not create unnecessary work for others.
15. When we open something, we close it.
16. When we take something out, we put it away.
17. When we turn something on, we turn it off.
18. When we make a mess, we clean it up.
19. When we do not know what to do, we ask.
20. When we go out, we act just as if we were in this house.
21. When we disobey or forget any of the 21 Rules of This House, we accept the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Homeschooling, Teens, & Formals

Our family started the homeschooling journey when my son was just 4 years old.  Our first goal was to teach him how to read.  From there we decided that we would travel the path one step at a time and each year at a time.  Back then, my husband and I weighed all the advantages and disadvantages to homeschooling.  What would my son miss out on?  What benefits would he loose? Would he still get to participate in various programs and sports?  What about friends?  What about Prom?

Looking back I can definitely say that we made the right decision.  Our goals for our family encompassed so much more than a few opportunities.  We had discipleship in mind.  And by the grace of God, we feel as though we have been on the right path all these years.  Sure, we stumble by the wayside some days; sure we struggle to climb those high hills, but God has been with us each step of the way, guiding our family.  With that said, the advantages have far outweighed the disadvantages.  It has become clear that homeschooled children have just as many opportunities for education, programs, and sports.  As far as friends are concerned, this has never been an issue.  My children have always had friends of all ages in abundance.  From neighbors, to friends at church, to homeschooled peers, God has always provided friendships.  And when it came to things such as prom and formals, I had decided many years ago that it would not be that big of deal if my children missed them.  After all, as Christians, why do we feel like we need to do the same things the world does?

Now fast forward to today.  Who knew that I would blink my eyes and be standing here with a 15 year old young man asking if he can go to a dance?  A local homeschool group hosts a Spring Formal every year and Abigail (my 13 year old) asked if she could go.  My first thought was “absolutely not.”  But, I had someone send me the information anyway and as it turned out, she was too young.  There, problem solved….until Aaron asked to go.  This surprised me.  So, I pulled back out the information and looked at it again.  Here is what it said,

Home schooled high school students (gr. 9-12), alumni, parents and friends, join us for a Christ-honoring formal event! Don your favorite formal wear and enjoy an evening of fellowship and fun~

Did you catch that?  This would be a “Christ honoring” event.  I kept reading.

MODESTY is of ABSOLUTE importance. We are a CHRISTIAN community of worshipers of the ONE TRUE GOD OF THE BIBLE. We may not agree on everything but we can  agree on the importance of honoring God in the way we present our bodies as a  living sacrifice and the importance of not causing our “brothers to stumble”

LADIES…please do not wear plunging necklines or backless dresses.  Straps on your dress need to be thick enough to be recognizable as straps. “Spaghetti” straps are not okay.  If you have a dress that you really want to wear and are unsure if it passes the “modesty” test…wear a shawl, shrug or jacket that will remain on during the entire evening.

GENTLEMEN… .please wear belts…we DO NOT want to see ANY of your underwear. 

Okay, so I liked what I read.  Then after speaking to a mom who has attended every year, Dana and I decided that we would go with Aaron.  And he was happy to have us tag along. (I know this because I asked if it bothered him that we were going.  He said, “Oh course not, why would it?”)  We decided that if we liked what we saw we would let Abigail go with us next year.  I’ve had several other mom’s ask me to share my thoughts about the evening.  So here goes.

My Thoughts

I will admit that I went into the evening somewhat skeptical.  My first impression was that it looked like my own high school prom, from the decorations to the flash photography. But upon closer examination, I did notice a couple of significant differences.  The first was the amount of adults.  While I am not sure of the numbers, there seemed to be 100-150 people there.  And it looked to me that there were as many adults as there were youth.  I was thrilled to see all the alumni and parents.

The second thing I noticed was how the young ladies dressed.  Most of the young ladies (90%) followed the dress code.  A few did not.  But for the most part I was very pleased with how modest all these young girls looked in their beautiful formals.

 One of my favorite dresses was of this young lady who sat at our table.  She was accompanied to the dance by her father who wore a matching camouflage shirt.  It was precious.

The evening began with pictures and then a sit down meal.  I had Chicken & Shrimp sautéed in a pesto cream with plum tomatoes and fettuccine.  Aaron and Dana had sautéed chicken breast finished with a Marsala mushroom sauce served with mashed potatoes and green beans.  It was good.  There were several games afterwards and the music started at around 9 p.m.  Before the music began there was another reminder to the group that we were a Christian organization and that everything we did needed to be Christ honoring.

Let me first say that our family listens to very little secular music.  If you don’t count Veggie Tales or Tim Hawkins songs, you could say we listen to NO secular music.  Music stirs the soul.  I believe that it will either stir your soul towards God or away.  (You can read my full opinion on music here.)  So, I really wasn’t sure what my thoughts would be on the music.  The music ranged from a techno version of the Cotton Eyed Joe to Elvis Songs to the Macarena with lots in between.  My husband has an app on his phone that picks up the lyrics to any song played and we noticed that one of the songs toward the beginning of the evening had a bleeped out “F-word”.  While I was glad it was bleeped out, I really didn’t see a point in the song being played.  It might have, however, just been an oversight with those who put the playlist together.

Most all of the dancing was group dancing, like the Cha Cha Slide.  There was some Waltz (with instruction) and the Swing dance.  I would have personally liked to see a lot more ballroom dancing throughout the evening.  But, it appeared that the dancing was as innocent as dancing could be.  I didn’t see a lot of “coupling”.  There just wasn’t a big romance theme going on.  The youth were simply having fun, enjoying the fellowship.  I did see a lot of dads/daughters and moms/sons dancing together.  That was nice.  One thing about homeschooled children is that they are rarely cliquish and always friendly.  I was reminded again of this during the evening.  Everyone seemed welcome and no one really looked excluded.

(Aaron & a couple of friends)

Overall, I would equate the dance to “empty calories” – you know, potato chips, ice cream, cookies.  These things taste good, but provide no real nourishment.  I did not walk away saying, “Wow, I’m so thankful my child had this opportunity!  This has really added to his life in a very meaningful way!”  Nor did I walk away from the evening saying, “Wow, I wish we had never attended.  This was a huge mistake!”  I walked away thinking that it was okay.  Aaron enjoyed the evening.  I enjoyed seeing him dressed up.  The fellowship was nice.  He enjoyed his friends, made new ones, and was able to experience the whole formal evening in a safe environment.  I really appreciated all the work that was put into the evening to make it a nice event for the whole family.

(Father & Son)

So the bottom line is that each family needs to make their own decision based on their convictions.  Will we go next year?  Probably so, chances are Dana and I will take both Aaron and Abigail.  While this is not something we would just drop our children off at, going as a family will be an enjoyable event we will look forward to each year.

Birthdays!

I am certainly feeling blessed today.  I turned 25 again….okay I’ll tell the truth…. plus Abigail.  (You can say that when your daughter is born on your 25th birthday.)  By far, she was the most wonderful birthday gift I have ever received.  And she has been a true blessing all these years.  I am so thankful for the young lady she has become.  I am so thankful for the tender heart she has and the loving disposition she displays.  Happy 13th birthday, sweet girl!  You are a gift from God and a joy and delight to your family and all who know you.

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“That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace,” Psalms 144:12.

Teaching Children to Give During the Holidays

  Last night my family did something we don’t usually do.  We sat down after dinner and watched a TV program together.  America’s Funniest Home Videos was on and we do love to laugh.  You know the show – someone falls off a roof, gets hit by a ball, or has a skiing accident.  Of course, my 9 year old asked a valid question last night.  He wanted to know, “Why do we laugh at people getting hurt?”  Good point, son, and one that should be addressed sometime.  But what really caught my attention were the videos that showed children getting their Christmas presents.  One was of a boy who got clothes for a present and stomped up to his room in anger.  Another one was of a teenage girl who thought she didn’t get the phone she wanted and her pouty reaction.  Parents gave one girl a fish tank for Christmas.  Apparently, the fish didn’t live and the girl reacted by shouting, “This is the worse Christmas ever!”  The videos are meant to be funny but my thoughts were that these children are unthankful, selfish, and rude to their parents.

If we are not careful we will play right into the natural inclination of children’s selfishness, especially at Christmas.  While I desire to give my children good things, at the same time I do not want them becoming self centered in the process.  One way we try to do this is by steering them away from creating a “Christmas wish list” and instead we have them create a list of what they would like to give to others.  My parents have been good at teaching their grandchildren that “it is more blessed to give than receive.”  Each year at Thanksgiving they give the children a gift of money for them to give away.   The children will take the money and buy presents to give away to someone in need or they will buy gifts for people in a nursing home.  This helps to create in their heart an attitude of giving.

This attitude should be taught all year long.  However, we should be ever diligent in teaching it during Christmas.  For the Christian, gift giving represents the greatest gift ever given – God giving the world His only begotten Son.  It is so easy to get caught up in the holiday bustle and forget the real reason for the season.  I remember talking to a young mother last year.  She stated that she was sick of Christmas.  All her children did was whine and complain about what they wanted that year.  And this was two weeks before Christmas!  I walked away from the conversation very sad.  This was a young girl in our church who professed Christ.

Philippians 2:4 tells us, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”  Christ gave His life for others and we are to follow in His example.  The reality is that we will never teach our children to give unless they see this portrayed in our own lives.  Like the saying goes, more is caught by children than taught.  If we are selfish and self centered during Christmas, our children will be as well.  But, if we live our lives in love as we are told in Romans 12:10, and “in honour preferring one another” our children will learn to do this as well.

Look around and pray as a family about opportunities to give this year.   Many people let their children pick a child from the Angel Tree or they will do Operation Shoe Box.  These are fun ways for the children to give.  On two different occasions we found out the ages of children in our local Baptist Children’s Home and bought them gifts.  You can also look for opportunities within your church.  Perhaps you could adopt a Missionary family and send them gifts.  Often times there are people in your own congregation who have no family and who would love to spend the holidays with your family.  Giving doesn’t always involve spending money.  Sometimes a homemade gift, card, or just your time mean more to people than anything else.  Consider the elderly this year.  There are many lonely and depressed people during the holidays that could use some love and encouragement.  What a great way to share the love of Christ.

We can buy our children toys that will be broke in a few weeks.  We can get them the latest fashions that will soon be outdated.  Or we can buy them gadgets and electronics, but in a few months there will be newer and better versions out there.  I’m not against giving gifts to my children (in fact, we already have them all bought), but why not give them something that will last.  Give them an opportunity to develop an attitude of giving, thankfulness, selflessness, and love for others.

“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  (Act 20:35)

Theo

Faith, obedience, forgiveness…these are all qualities that we want to instill in our children.  The earlier we teach these things the better chance we will have that they take hold.  Cartoons can be a wonderful tool for teaching, which is why I am excited to share with you a new animated series called Theo: God’s Love.   Theo, an animated student of Godʼs Word, lives in a cozy corner of a quaint English village, in the heart of the Cotswolds, and entertains two mice, Belfry and Luther.  After 33 years in the making, the first DVD in the series Saving Faith releases on DVD September 13, 2011.

I sat down yesterday and watched the first episode.  In a way it reminded me of a shorter version of Adventures in Odyssey.  The episode is only 9 minutes long.  I thought it was an unusual length of time.  However, after watching it I could see the benefits of the shorter time.  Episode One taught about Saving Faith in a simple and entertaining way.  It was long enough to teach but short enough to keep little ones attention, making it perfect for Sunday school teachers who have just a few minutes at the end of class or who want to kick off a lesson on faith.  It is also a great resource for parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts who want to introduce a child to the great things of God.

You can visit the website and download the bonus episode called Good News for free.  Parents and those who work with children need to do this.  It is 5 minutes long and clearly presents the truth of the gospel.  You can also download each episode for only $4.99 on the website.  Saving Faith releases in September with Loving Obedience, Forgiveness, and Armor of God to follow.

If you are worker in a church you might be interested to know that Whitestone Media has partnered with Lifeway Christian resources in creating curriculum to compliment the Theo series.  Volume One – Foundations of Faith contains one DVD with 4 Theo episodes, teaching plans, worksheets, and parent pages to send home.  It also includes the bonus Good News episode and teaching plan on the gospel.  There is a link on the website where you can order it for $39.99.

Regardless of the way you teach your children about God, just make sure that you do.  There is nothing greater that you can give them in this life.  “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus, 2 Timothy 3:15.

***  I have two copies of Theo – Saving Faith to give away to my readers.  All you have to do is leave a comment and tell me who first taught you about God.  I will draw two numbers on Friday, September 16th and have the DVD’s shipped to them.  Blessings!

Disclaimer:  I received this DVD in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Aaron

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Happy 15th Birthday Son!  This is a significant age.  A lot of decisions will be made in the next few years that will affect your whole life.  I know we tease you about how we do not believe in “teenagers”.  We’ve always said that you will be considered a boy until you prove to be a man.  However, you are well on your way to becoming a man.  My prayer is that you continue on the path you are already on to becoming a strong man of God.  The Lord has gifted you in many areas.  God has given you a creative mind.  Use it for His glory.  He has given you a tender and compassionate heart.  Serve others and you will be like Jesus.  You are a natural leader.  I pray you use this gift to point others to God.  “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity”1Timothy 4:12. 

It blesses your father’s and my heart to see God molding and shaping you.  It thrills our hearts when we catch you reading your Bible to your brother or showing affection to your sister when you think no one is looking.  And it thrills our hearts to be able to call you our first born.  We love you, son!  Keep looking to the Lord.  Trust Him with all your heart.  Serve Him all the days of your life.  He will never fail you.

 “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment,”  Ecclesiastes 11:9.

Top 10 Reasons to NOT Homeschool

 It takes too much time!  Homeschooling is a lifestyle.  It doesn’t end at 3 p.m.  And you don’t stop learning over the weekends.   

No one pays you for doing it.  That’s pretty self explanatory.  Homeschooling mothers do not collect a check each Friday.

People think you are weird.  Who wants their family, friends, and neighbors thinking you are weird?   

You can never stop learning.  Homeschooling mothers have to keep their minds sharp.  Numbers and equations will float around in your head.  Your dreams will be filled with war dates and biology lessons.

It’s hard to advance a career. There are no promotions for the homeschooling mother.

Keeping a clean house is nearly impossible.  It is a lot easier to keep your house clean when no one is at home, running in and out, dirtying up dishes, etc.

Your home will look like a library. Just where will you put all those books?

You are always with your children.  With the exception of running back and forth between each child, you pretty much spend all day in their presence. 

Your children will not know how to deal with the “real” world.  How will they learn to associate with only people their age, raise their hand to ask a question, and stand in line?

You have to take full responsibility for the education of your children.  You can’t play the blame game when it comes to homeschooling.  You are completely accountable. 

*  Making my list of reasons to NOT homeschool has completely energized me for the coming up year.  I’ve realized that a quality education for my children is well worth investing in.  Paychecks are fleeting but this pay has eternal rewards.  Being weird (or peculiar) is normal for a child of God.  There is no greater career than my family.  A clean house is overrated.  I’m glad we are a family that loves to read.  I like my children and enjoy spending every day with them.  I don’t want my children dealing with the “real” world.  Christians don’t deal….they overcome.  And regardless, every parent is accountable to God for the education, training, and upbringing of their children.  With all of that said, I consider it a huge privilege to be able to teach my children at home.  And I thank the Lord for the opportunity. 

18 and 14

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 18th Anniversary and I celebrated my 14th Mother’s Day!    My husband came home Friday with flowers and informed me that he was taking me out. We had a wonderful evening together.  We spent Saturday together as a family and then spent yesterday with our church family.  We had a blessed service.  Yesterday afternoon we spent the day with some friends -another pastor and his family.  They, too, live far away from their family.  We enjoyed a good meal, visited, and let the children swim.  (The only downfall was that I could not spend the day with my mother and family in Arkansas.  But she was in my thoughts and prayers all day long.)

It seems only appropriate to celebrate our Anniversary and Mother’s day together.  Without 18 wonderful years of marriage, I couldn’t enjoy the 14 blessed years of motherhood.  The high calling of being a wife and mother surpasses all others.  There is no nobler task than to strive to be a godly wife and helpmeet to my husband.  And there is no higher commission than that of bringing up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.   My husband is my champion and he makes being a wife and mother a complete joy.  He only expects from me what my Lord expects from me.  “…to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed,” Titus 2:4-5.   

 Thank you, my love, for 18 years.  We have experienced many mountain tops and have grown closer to the Lord and each other through many valleys.  I love you more today than ever before.

 To my three blessings, you each bring joy to my life.  I love you all dearly!

The Best Birthday Gift EVER!

Twelve years ago today I received the best birthday gift ever!  My Heavenly Father gave me my daughter, Abigail.  She was born a little after 1 a.m. on my 25th birthday.  Her name means “father’s joy” and while she is certainly that, she also brings joy to her mother and all those around her.

 

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Abigail, I thank the Lord for you.  I love you so much and truly want God’s best for your life.  I celebrate the day you were born because it is special.  It is special to your family but also to your Heavenly Father.  He created you for a purpose.  That purpose is to glorify Him in all you do.  I pray that God will bless you today.  That He will continue to mold and shape you into the beautiful young lady you are becoming.  I pray that He will bless your hands throughout your entire life.  That everything you do will point others to our Lord.  I pray that God will continue to create in you a clean heart and that you always love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I pray that God will give you a pure love for others and that you spend your life serving those around you in a selfless way.

Be careful precious child that you do not fall into the trap of vain beauty.  It is especially easy for young ladies your age.  The world tells you that you must look beautiful on the outside.  But this is not true.  You are a beautiful young lady but always keep in mind what God’s Word says about beauty.  “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised,” (Proverbs 31:30)

A young lady, no matter how beautiful she is on the outside, who does not have virtue and honor, will become a disgrace.  “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion,” (Proverbs 11:22).

Remember sweet Daughter, that the world can be awful cruel and that people can be mean.  But you are not of this world.  You are set apart.  You are special.  You are a child of the King.  So, set your affections on things above and not on things below.  When all those around you are worldly minded make sure you are spiritually minded.  When people around you make poor choices remember who you are.  Do what is right, never forgetting that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him,” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

You are surrounded by people who love you.  You have grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins who love you dearly. Never forget how much your family loves you.   Never forget that your father and I will always be here for you.  Never forget that you have brothers that will protect and defend you.  Never forget that God loves you with an everlasting love. 

Happy 12th Birthday Abigail!   

Love, Mom

5 Ways to say “I Love You!”

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the card, chocolate, and flower industries are prospering.  Everyone wants to show their loved ones just how much they truly love them.  But let me ask.  Is this the best way to show our love?  Sure, it is nice to get a card, some chocolate, or a vase of flowers on Valentine’s Day.   But is it really necessary? 

Do not get me wrong.  I love getting flowers and such from my husband.  But I love getting them much more “just because”.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is that the “just because” are not expected.  They are just because he is thinking of me and wants to show his love.  The second reason is that these industries usually increase their prices this time of year.  And I hate having money wasted.

So, what is one to do?  After all, it would be incredibly disheartening to just ignore an extra opportunity to show some love.  We could buy things for our family and they could buy things for us.  But, I’ve put together a list of five ways that we can show our husband or children just how much we love them without spending a dime.

Writing – It stands to reason that a writer would list writing first.  It just makes so much sense.  First of all, when you take the time to write something down it means more.  It is longer lasting.  I’ve written many poems for my husband and family.  One year I made an acrostic poem of my children’s names.  I simply listed attributes about them beginning with the letters of their names.  Maybe poetry is not your expertise.  Don’t despair.   A simple letter that they could hold on to would speak volumes.  I have learned that very few men care about poetry.  They do, however, want to be respected.  So, make a list for your husband of all the reason’s you respect him.  Tell him he’s doing a good job.  Let him know he’s a good father.  Thank him for providing for you every day.  My husband has told other men to go to Wal-mart and copy down a Halmark card word for word.  I won’t comment on that! But I will say that there is nothing sweeter than a hand written note.

Baking – Sure you can go to the store and buy cupcakes or cookies.  But there is always one ingredient the stores leave out – love.  Sure you can go out, wait in line for two hours, and share a fancy meal at an expensive restaurant with dozens of other couples but where is the romance in that?  One sure way to let your loved ones know you care is to bake them something.  Pancakes for breakfast with chocolate chips are one way to give my children something special.  One year I took some chocolate and melted it down.  I then took wooden skewers and made chocolate heart suckers for my children.  A little time and $3 later I was their hero!  A frozen pizza is particularly special for my husband!  No, not for him to eat but for the children.  You see, I can fix us a special romantic meal and send the children to another room with a frozen pizza and a movie.  They are happy to get a special treat.  We are happy to have some special time.  Everyone wins!  Does your husband have a favorite meal or dessert?  Make it for him.  He’ll love you for it! 

  Investing – Nothing articulates love like time!  Invest some time into your children.  Play a game with them.  Color with them.  Read a book together.  Help them make a tent in the living room.  Just spend time with them.  And, after spending time with them put them to bed early and spend time with your husband.  My husband and I like to take walks together.  We stay close to the house, hold hands, and walk.  It’s wonderful.  If you have a busy day scheduled make the effort to get up 15 minutes early and linger over a cup of coffee together.  It will set the tone for the rest of the day.  Keep some white space on your calendar for your family.  It shows them you love them!

 Organizing – One day my children and I spent an afternoon cleaning out and organizing their daddy’s closet.  We even categorized his dress shirts by color.  He was so thrilled!  Sometimes I surprise him and we clean out and vacuum his car.  Doing little things for others is a big way to show love.  Does your husband have a desk, a work area, or a shed that needs some attention?  Surprise him and organize it.  What about your children’s bedrooms?  We expect our children to be responsible for their own rooms.  It is their job to clean them.  And maybe you have extremely neat and organized children who keep their rooms perfectly clutter free.  I don’t.  My children for some reason think that the trash can is under the bed.  So every now and then (for no other reason than because I love them) I help them organize their rooms.  A little help goes a long way.

Praying – So far I have listed ways to show our family we love them with our hands – writing, baking, investing, and organizing.  But this next one is not something we do with our hands.  We do it on our knees.  One of the greatest ways to show you love your family is to pray earnestly for them.  Pray for your husband, that God would lead him as he leads his family.  Pray that God gives him wisdom.  Pray that God would bless him.  Pray for your children. Pray for their salvation, pray for their protection, pray for their health, and pray for their future.  Pray that God will work mightily in your family.    Prayer is a great gift that shows great love.  Your family may not ever know about it but the effects are eternal.

This list is not exclusive.  There are many ways to show love to your family.  Be creative.  And have a blessed Valentine’s Day!

We love him, because he first loved us. (1John 4:19)

 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:8-10)