Posts tagged love
New Year Resolutions

As we enter a new calendar year, this often compels us to an eager anticipation for a sense of newness—a fresh start.  Whether it is driven by an urgency for change or a comfort in new beginnings, many people use January as a way of re-setting lifestyle choices or patterns they want to implement. The calendar gives us a natural transition into new beginnings. 

I love the distinction I recently heard Senator Ben Sasse offer between habits and addictions. The only difference between habits and addictions is that if it’s something good that we want or desire it’s a habit, but if it is something we don’t want or is bad for us then it is an addiction.

Many of us begin a new year with good intentions for a fresh start with a bold determination for building new muscles of habits we intend to keep, but often we fall back into old patterns and addictions.

The word resolution (n) is a firm decision to do or not to do something; the quality of being determined or resolute. The word resolute (adj) is a firm determination to do something or (v) decide firmly on a course of action. Both words come from the same meaning with a resolve to take a new course of action. But in order for us to build the muscle of “habit” we must be resolved to follow through with a resolution.  Resolutions technically are more than just goals, it is a resolve for action. 

Moms, what does this look like practically in our lives, in our homes, and for our children?

The Bible uses the word resolved on three occasions. All three references refer to a resolve to know Jesus and walk in purity and obedience. 

Psalm 17:3 “Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.”

Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”

1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

David resolves to keep his mouth from sin. “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” which tells us this is more than just watching the words that come from our mouth, this is a heart transformation of a life that seeks to know God and reflect the image of God.  Daniel resolved to not defile himself although his place of life and work provided him essentially anything he could have wanted.  He created space and boundaries to look different from the world and honor God. And finally, Paul is resolved to know Jesus fully. He dedicated his life to bask in the presence of the Almighty to know God and make Him known. He was resolved to not let distractions (although probably good things) get in the way of knowing Jesus. 

Moms, I think there is a lot we can learn when it comes to resolutions and how we teach our children about resolutions in life. While healthy eating habits and exercise or ridding our life of addictions is good and keeps us in balance, where we put our resolve each year (each day) should be like the examples set before us.  If I resolve to do anything in life, my resolve is to know the Father heart of God so that my heart and mind are transformed into His likeness. My deepest desire for my daughters is that they are resolved to know God and make Him known living out their purpose in being created. 

As we begin a new year, may we challenge one another to be resolved to know a Father God who loves us and sent His Son to die for our salvation. When this becomes our primary focus in life, and we like Paul, are determined and resolved to know Jesus and make Him known, this allows us to maintain boundaries, protect our homes, and our time as we point our children to Jesus. 

I am Loved

And when I realize this, that the greatest part of my being is that I am deeply and unconditionally loved, it makes me desperate to share the realness and the ability to feel this with those whose greatest feeling in their being right now is a lack of love.

Because this person that I am now, this loved and accepted and grace covered person, is not who I once was.

I spent many days and nights feeling
unloved.
unwanted.
not enough.
overwhelmed.
under qualified.
cast aside.
never good enough.

So to be here, resting in love…it’s surprising.
And yet, so natural. Because I was designed to love and to be loved.
My flaw was in looking to people to fulfill this design.

When I sit at the feet of my Father, I am not at all concerned with who or what Iam.
Because I am HIS.
And He is perfection.
And that is enough.
And I am so caught up in every beautiful thing that He is, that my earthly thoughts of myself fade into the shadow of His wings.
I. am. loved.

I was loved before I realized it.

I had only to open my soul to it.

And now I want nothing more than to pour it out on you.

You. are. loved.

You need only realize it.

Cast your burdens into the shadow of His wings and allow your soul to be enveloped in His love. Find rest. Find healing. Find joy. Find overflow. Find love.

Find LIFE.

Guest Contributor:

Andie Fair.jpg

Andie Fair is the starry-eyed wife of her high school sweetheart, Executive Creative Director of Chaos to their kiddos, a quirky, open-door homemaker with a soul wired to explore the unknown, a heart crafted to lead with love, and a second mug of coffee forever in the microwave. She’s a certified health coach, aiming to make healthy living easier for families and a volunteer disciple maker who gets her thrills guiding others to engage in an active relationship with their Redeemer. She writes randomly and strives to live intentionally. 

I am a Child of God

Who am I?
I am a child of God.
What does that mean to me?

This evening, when I dropped my three year old off in her children’s ministry environment, she was fussy about it — we’d been traveling, she’d had too much sugar in the past few days, her routine was thrown off, and she just wanted to hunker down and snuggle momma — she didn’t wanna be there.

As our Pastor taught, he mentioned John 14:18 and I had this moment of connection to the angst the disciples must have felt knowing that their leader, their teacher, their beloved, their Messiah, was leaving them.

And I thought of my own children — when I leave them, even though I know it’s temporary — it pains me to see them distraught — and what do I want for them? My hope is that they will have gathered enough courage, comfort, and confidence in their time with me that they go into the environment I’m sending them without hesitation. That they can draw on our time together and what I have taught them, that their spirit is settled in the midst of the unfamiliar because they know who they are and whose they are and they truly believe that I am always coming back to them — so there is no doubt in their precious hearts.

As a child of God — how am I to go into the world, to enter my calling and to encounter all of the mountains, the valleys, and the full spectrum of in between moments, if I’m not spending time with Him? From where will I draw my courage? My comfort? My confidence?
If I am not rooted and established, what will happen when the storms come?
And will I be afraid to step into the blinding sun?
Will I have stored up strength to draw on when it’s just plain dreary?

I find myself praying that I will soak in the confidence, comfort, and courage of my Father daily — learning His ways, absorbing His teaching, and radiating His great love to face this world unafraid, to draw up a peace that passes all understanding, to walk boldly in my calling — knowing both who I am and whose I am.

I, am a child of the King.
the One true God, the Creator of the universe, the Savior of my soul, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

Lord, write Your story on my heart that the world You have placed me in might read of Your redeeming grace, Your great love, Your awe inspiring power, and that Your name may be lifted high, Your mighty splendor celebrated, and Your all sufficient holiness adored. ❤ 

Guest Contributor:

Andie Fair.jpg

Andie Fair is the starry-eyed wife of her high school sweetheart, Executive Creative Director of Chaos to their kiddos, a quirky, open-door homemaker with a soul wired to explore the unknown, a heart crafted to lead with love, and a second mug of coffee forever in the microwave. She’s a certified health coach, aiming to make healthy living easier for families and a volunteer disciple maker who gets her thrills guiding others to engage in an active relationship with their Redeemer. She writes randomly and strives to live intentionally. 

Reflections on Father’s Day: 40 Years as a Child of God

Everyone is called by a name, but few get the honor to call someone by such a personal, intimate name like father or daddy.  It does not require a personal relationship to call a man by their given name such as David, Paul, or Michael. But calling someone father or daddy, this is personal. This is reserved for a special relationship, a unique privilege for a son or daughter. 

Contributing to “the act” of a baby coming into this world can be relatively easy, fun, and enjoyable. It doesn’t take necessarily a strong man to make this kind of contribution. But fathering a baby is not being a father. Fatherhood is an honor. Fatherhood is a responsibility that requires great sacrifice. 

This year, Father’s Day is particularly meaningful and personal for me. Today, I celebrate 40 years of calling God my Father—having a personal relationship with God as my Father and being His child. As a young six year old girl on a Father’s Day Sunday afternoon, I knelt beside my parent’s bed with my parents on either side of me, and gave Jesus my life and entered into the family of God. Calling God, the Creator of heaven and earth, father or daddy is extremely personal for me. It is not a formal relationship, but rather a father/daughter relationship with on-going conversation that is 24/7. A lot of people refer to God as God, but they do not have a personal relationship to call Him Father or Daddy.

Father’s Day can illicit a plethora of emotions ranging from an extraordinary appreciation or deep love to an indescribable pain or hurt. One’s relationship with their father in many ways has a direct impact on who we are today. The father/child relationship influences all relationships we have in life. The significance of this relationship colors the world we live in and how we see life and others. Whether you were deeply hurt by your father or were held by loving arms of a father, we see the world through the lens of this relationship. Over the last 25 years of doing ministry, one thing I have observed is the fact that many men “father” children, but not all are committed to the sacrifice and honor that fatherhood requires.  

Our society does not value the family. And fathers walking out on their families is rampant. While it doesn’t take a strong man to contribute to birthing a child, it take an extraordinary strong man to stay and embrace the sacrifice of fatherhood and commitment to one’s family. My heart is broken to watch men walk away from the commitment of fatherhood. 

Fatherhood provides a tangible visual for us to embrace the father-heart of God. Although imperfect in our humanity, there are distinct ways we can get a glimpse of God’s love in the gift of fatherhood. Fatherhood is an honor. It is a sacred relationship that has the potential to reflect the image of God as Father. While there are many qualities that fatherhood embodies, there are 5 that I think are essential and allow us to see God as a Father: Unconditional Love, Protection, Discipline, Faithfulness, and Forgiveness.

Each and everyone of us long to be loved with an unconditional love. We will never measure up by our actions or behaviors. We will all make mistakes. A good father will love us when we mess up. His love will never be conditional. It won’t matter what kind of grades we make, how we perform on the field, or how successful we are in our profession. A father that loves unconditionally gives the gift of loving us because of who we are, not what we have to offer. Unconditional love celebrates who we have been created to be loving us no matter what—regardless of our failures. 

We live in a world of good vs evil, strong vs weak. A father that provides protection and defends his sons and daughters teaches his children that there is safety at home. There is safety in a father’s loving arms. That protection and security a father can provide allows his children the carefree freedom to explore and thrive knowing their father will rescue, defend, and protect them at all cost.

Love provides discipline. Discipline is a gift given to those we love and want to see successful in life. It is nurturing correction that allows a child to learn right from wrong. It is a way for a child to feel safe and loved because there are boundaries in place to keep them from harm. Discipline is not done in anger, but rather love. No correction is enjoyable at the time, but a child that has been provided loving discipline will thrive and be confident able to discern right from wrong. A child that is disciplined is blessed. 

Faithfulness is the gift given to a family of not giving up or walking out when times are hard. Faithfulness provides a stability and safety for children to experience in the home. Faithfulness is a picture of a love that never ends. All families will experience hardships. In a broken world, it is impossible to live together as a family and not experience pain, brokenness, and heartache. But a father who never leaves and withstands the storms of life holding hands with his bride and children by his side is a man of courage.  A man of strength never leaves or abandons those he has been entrusted to keep safe in the midst of life’s storms. A good father never leaves. 

Life is riddled with choices from the moment our eyes open in a sun-lit room to the time we drift off in slumber at night. With every decision there are consequences. When we make wise decisions, there are blessings that fill our lives. And likewise, when we make the wrong decision, we have to live with the consequences of our choices. A father that navigates and helps guide his children with wisdom, but is there to hold and comfort, teach and correct a child when poor choices have been made is the epitome of forgiveness. There is not a person who is alive and breathing that does not need the gift of forgiveness. We all are desperate for forgiveness because we all mess up. A father who can calmly teach and correct a child through their painful mistakes is a father who loves deeply. Forgiveness does not eliminate consequences or discipline. Forgiveness is a beautiful gift a father can give recognizing that we all are in need of grace. 

It is in our humanity that we are all reminded that the best of us struggle with providing any of these five qualities with excellence. Our selfishness and pride often stand in the way of articulating and executing any of these qualities successfully. There are many who read through a list like this and are reminded of all the ways their father has failed them. Walking out on their mother and siblings, remind them of the hurt they can’t seem to move past. Estranged relationships leave so many in pain due to abuse and mis-management of the role of fatherhood. However, many of us do have fathers that have loved us well and modeled many of these traits with excellence. There are fathers, while not perfect, who do strive to provide these qualities to their families. 

And there is hope. Regardless of the kind of experience you had with your father, there is one thing for certain—no father is perfect. That is, all but one. God’s love is unconditional. He has given us the ultimate gift of love by giving His Son, Jesus, as the sacrifice for our sin which separates us from His perfection. He is a Father that loves us as sons and daughters. He is our protection. He is our defender. He is our shield. He is there to pick us up when we fall down. He is there to hold us tight as the Father who lovingly embraces and holds as His child. He is perfect, without sin, and yet it is His loving discipline that calls us to repentances and relationship with Him. God’s faithfulness is the promise of never leaving us or forsaking us. He never walks out or abandons us. It is His faithfulness that is always standing with open arms to receive us, welcome us, and hold us despite our shortcomings. 

And because of His great love for us, it is His forgiveness that creates the bridge of reconciliation from our humanity to the family of God. It is the sacrifice God offered by giving His one and only Son to become sin and the sacrifice for mankind to enter into the loving family of God. That kind of sacrifice can only be offered by a true, loving, and perfect Father. This is the gift of fatherhood that only God Himself has the power or authority to offer. 

It is the chasm of selfishness and pride that we find ourselves, which prevents us from receiving this gift of true Fatherhood He offers. Regardless of the relationship we have had with our earthly father, we are all offered the gift of a perfect Father that offers unconditional love, protection, discipline, faithfulness, and forgiveness. Today, I celebrate Father’s Day honoring my earthly father, and father of my daughters, but most of all 40 years as a daughter of the King. A Father’s Day that provides us a home in eternity offering us unconditional love and forgiveness because of the gift of His Son, Jesus. The gift of calling our Creator, Father, is the ultimate celebration of Father’s Day. This is Fatherhood. 

"I am Singing over You" Love, God

Years ago, while going through a season where my perception of God’s love for me was challenged, there were several days that I had a few lines from a song stuck in my head.  That is not that unusual; we’ve all had that happen.  What was unusual, was that I hadn’t heard this particular song in years, not even it’s melody had come across my path.  Just a few lines from the song kept repeating in my mind.  I’m not even sure I could recall the rest of the song; it was obscure and I had only ever heard it a few times, at best.  

After a few days while humming it and going about mundane tasks, I felt that still, small voice speak to my spirit and I was thunderstruck.  “Meg, you are hearing the song I am singing over you.”  A passage in scripture, that always makes me smile is Zephaniah 3: 17 where the prophet says the Lord will rejoice over His people with singing.  You see, in my period of doubt, doubt that My heavenly Father could love me as much as others He chose to favor with what I desperately longed for, but lacked, I was hearing, continually, Paul Simon’s song Father and Daughter.  The lines I kept hearing were, “I’m going to watch you shine, gonna watch you grow….and as long as one and one is two there could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you.”

Oh, what we will hear if we listen, if we inquire after the Lord, and we wait upon Him!   In Daniel 2:28 Daniel declares that there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, mysteries if you will.  He longs to show us more of Him, reveal His nature that we may know Him.  He does that primarily through scripture, His Word, His love letter to us, the greatest love story ever told.  As we get into His Word, get before Him in prayer, which is not only unloading our cares and requests on Him, but surrendering our will to His, waiting upon Him, and listening, He will “show us great and mighty things” which we do not know. (Jer.33:3)

I began to ask that He would reveal to me what He was singing over me, when I needed to hear to it most, and the for wisdom to know, when it was just a song stuck in my head.   He has answered a handful of times, always in surprising ways, and always timely and personally.  I am so grateful for the heavenly Father who knows me intimately, and desires for me to know Him just as personally.

The truth that Daniel proclaimed to King Nebuchadnezzar, that there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, is unchanging.  What do you need to know, how the God of the universe truly feels about you, how He sees you?  Press into Him, ask, seek, knock, and as you wait upon Him, be listening.  (Phil 3:14; Luke 11:9)

ps... I Love You!

She crawled up into the seat next to me and looked up into my eyes with a sparkle in hers. I brushed a whisp of hair off her face, over her cheek, and something about that moment overwhelmed me with the need to tell her I loved her. She hadn’t done anything special, it was as ordinary a moment as any, an in-between moment even, but with her attention fixated on me it welled up inside me just the same and I felt compelled to make sure she knew.

As a parent, I think there are few things we want more than for our children to rest securely in our love.

And as a child of God, I couldn’t help but wonder if those little things He does for us, the things that might seem trivial or insignificant to others but remind us of His presence, are His way of brushing the hair out of our face and whispering “I love you”…

I know that she knows. But the more I can remind her in the simple but genuine moments we share together, the more she’ll remember when she’s walking a difficult path and she feels alone, discouraged, or overwhelmed — and the less room there’ll be for doubt.

Maybe the more we draw close to God and seek His face with eyes of wonder and adoration, the more we’ll hear Him assuring us in moments He carves out just for us — the ordinary moments that He makes special with His touch — and we’ll be better able to hang onto that still small voice amidst the crashing waves to come.

Guest Contributor:

Andie Fair.jpg

Andie Fair is the starry-eyed wife of her high school sweetheart, Executive Creative Director of Chaos to their kiddos, a quirky, open-door homemaker with a soul wired to explore the unknown, a heart crafted to lead with love, and a second mug of coffee forever in the microwave. She’s a certified health coach, aiming to make healthy living easier for families and a volunteer disciple maker who gets her thrills guiding others to engage in an active relationship with their Redeemer. She writes randomly and strives to live intentionally. 

A Decade of Love & Learning

My husband and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage today… 15 years of falling in love.

I’m not entirely sure why 10 years gets so much attention — maybe it’s because you’re entering into double digits. Maybe it’s because it has this new name that sounds so accomplished — a DECADE — … Maybe it’s because when you’ve been living with another person for a DECADE, you finally start to feel like you’re possibly beginning to get the hang of it a little bit. For us, celebrating 10 years is a big deal because it’s not 6 years or 8 years — those were hard, HARD years for us — but we made it, and we’re stronger, and we’re happy about it {and also happy that we’re not in year 6 or 8 anymore 😀 }. Maybe we’re able to focus on celebrating a little more because we’re not changing any diapers this anniversary… though, you know, there’s still a chance someone will wet the bed tonight… 😉

It is true that fifteen years is a long time to invest in someone; Ten years is a long time to be voluntarily bound to someone. We’re lucky that our marriage is fun {for the most part} and that we’ve come to be on the same page about a lot of things — those factors make it easier to enjoy life together. Though I’m not sure lucky is a very accurate word — we’ve put in a lot of hard work to get here. And I’m sure there’s much ahead of us. That’s something I feel like no one tells you about marriage. It’s hard. But also very much worth the hard. We tend to either get this picture that marriage is one long romantic comedy or that it’s the end of the world as we know it and something to be terrified of. I’ve found it to be not much like either.

Here are a few things we’ve learned during this first decade of marriage… things that at face value may not seem worth celebrating but OH. ARE. THEY. EVER. Many of these are things we pray our daughters learn BEFORE they get married. Though some can only be truly realized through experience. If you’re not married yet but think maybe one day you possibly might be {careful writing it off too quickly there — at 16, I didn’t plan on ever getting married…I also met my husband at 16…ha. ha. ha. 😉 } — I hope you’ll take these things to heart. If you’re currently married, and you’re in a season of HARD — I hope you’ll find encouragement here at least in knowing that you’re not alone. If you’re in a really fantastic season of marriage, I hope you’ll tuck these away to draw strength from when it gets tough. Maybe your marriage will always be a bed of roses, but that’s not our story…unless you consider that the gardener forgot to remove all the thorns before making that bed we’re laying in… 😉

  1. Love is a VERB. It takes action. True love {and no I don’t mean Disney fairy tale princess love where your eyes meet from across the room and suddenly you live happily ever after…or, having never met you, he kisses you while you’re sleeping, and you live in some deranged world where you don’t wake up and knock his teeth out for the audacity…okay, sidetracked}… TRUE LOVE requires action. effort. work, if you will. You may even find yourself feeling like you are literally fighting for it. My best advice is to get on the same side and fight for it together.
  2. Being High School Sweethearts does not set you apart on a pedestal of romantic hierarchy. Nor does it doom you to misery, as some would have liked to convince us was our future. But for us, it definitely meant extrawork. Because as grown as I thought I was at 16, 17…22…I was not. We both had a lot of growing, self discovery, and change ahead of us that we were not prepared for, independently nor to walk through together. I honestly believe it would be in the best interest of everyone’s hearts to not get romantically involved until you’re in your mid twenties and you’ve hopefully really discovered who you are and what this life has to offer. It’ll be a different kind of hard to meld 2 lives that are well established, but that brings me to my next point… 
  3. “You Complete Me” is a load of {you fill in the blank with anything that smells unpleasant} destined to lead your heart and your relationship into {you fill in the blank again, still unpleasant}. DO. NOT. attempt to “find yourself” in someone else. Do not walk into someone else’s arms while attempting to find yourself. While I 100% support and encourage having friends and mentors who walk alongside you as you discover who you were created to be and determine how you’re going to embrace that, it should be a primarily independent seek & find adventure, at least in terms of who you’re committed to {or distracted by}. If you have tied your heart to another before you have found yourself as a complete person, you will {possibly inadvertently} tie your identity to that person rather than to your destiny… see below ::
  4. Your identity, and the confidence you walk in, should be defined by your Creator & Savior. No one else can rescue you. And really, expecting them to is unfair to both of you. Trust me, I’ve been there. I was broken… he seemed strong, made me smile, built me back up…so I put my faith in him. That was wrong. I set him up for failure, set myself up for disappointment. He is a person. and people will always let you down. It’s not an excuse, just a reality.  We have let each other down many times over the course of 15 years. I’m confident we will let each other down in the future, try as we may to avoid it. But we have also learned along this journey where our faith, hope, trust, joy, and ever present help come from — and it’s not one another. There are a lot of things we can, should, and love to do for one another. Filling the role of Savior should never be one of them.
  5. Unspoken expectations are the ammunition of a loaded gun, waiting to be fired. If you’ve been within 50 feet of relationship advice, leadership advice, interacting with people advice… you’ve probably heard “communication is key” — it’s truth. That’s why “they” say it. all. the. time. Set aside time to be open and honest with one another {when you’re not in the heat of a spirited debate} about your needs, about the expectations you have on yourself in this relationship and how the other person sees those, what you want to be and may need help with, what you feel like you need from your partner, what you would love to see, experience, what you dream of doing independently and together. Approach this time prayerfully and with as much of an open mind and spirit of grace as you possibly can. Your relationship will be richer for it. See point 1 ❤
  6. Connection is the other key. Without connection, communication is cold. Marriage is so much more than a contractual agreement. Remember why you wanted to marry this person in the first place. Reflect on their charm. Remind them of it. Give yourself space and permission to discover new things you love about them. Find something you both enjoy to do together — and make time to do it. Invest in your relationship the way you would when you were dating. Love on them through their favorite things. Has it been a while and you’re not so sure you know what his/her favorite things are? Ask. And then follow up with action.  If you don’t know your spouse’s primary love language(s), figure it out! It’s an easy place to start — and could be a great date night focus. Kindling connection will keep the spark alive and help to burn that fire around which you can enjoy authentic communication.
  7. Your marriage bed is sacred. This is a hard one to put out there on the internet. In the world of acceptable Christian issues, this one is still pretty scarlet. Listen to me, I believe this is ESPECIALLY important BEFORE you are married. It is of course equally important having entered into marriage, but I think too often we discount the things that happen “outside of marriage” when we weren’t married at the time. This is mostly directed at those of you who are young and maybe even think yeah, yeah, you know, you’ve got it. Or maybe you’re searching for the why and struggling to understand it in the heat of your relationship. For those of us already married, or already having “given up” this sacrament, read on to #8. But for those of you who hold it, whether intentionally or by circumstance — hold fast. Maybe you don’t find the Bible making a convincing argument. That’s fine. I didn’t either. So hear mine. EVEN IF you marry the person you are intimate with outside of marriage, in my experience, there is a whole world of emotional baggage you could avoid, both in your inner personal battles, and in your relationship, pre and post marriage, by abstaining. We use the word intimate for a reason. It is a deeply personal connection that is filled with vulnerability. There are plenty of other things that will be messy and require your emotions — don’t let this be one of them. Let it be beautiful.
  8. This one applies to so many aspects of life but I also want to highlight it in reference to those of us who feel the pangs of guilt when reading #7, — and not as a permission-giving excuse to those addressed there {because I promise you it is just. not. worth it and there are always consequences that ensue and must be carried}, but — our God is a great redeemer of ALL things — and I believe this to be no different. Surrendered to Him, He will make it new. He will heal the hurt. We may carry scars but He brings beauty from ashes. And this to all realms of our relationship — bring your hurt, bring your troubles, bring your doubts, bring your struggles, and surrender them at His feet. I pray, so hard, that you are able to do this together as well. That your marriage will be unified under a loving Savior and great Redeemer. Yes, there are times, many times, to come to Him personally, but coming to Him together as well brings a whole new level of strength to your relationship. I believe He wants you to walk in freedom and in unity and though I may not know you, I am praying that over you with hope today. ❤ 
  9. Community is priceless. Your relationship NEEDS other relationships. Growing together with others you relate to personally, and learning from couples who are a few steps ahead of you, one day imparting wisdom on those coming behind… being embraced in an encouraging community can be such a powerful catalyst to the growth and development of your marriage!
  10. Never stop learning. About each other, from each other, for each other. If you’re going to be invested in this relationship, learn to love it. You will never arrive there. Encouraging, right? We are multi-faceted creatures, ever changing, planted in an ever turning world where influences come and go and grow and wither… these lives we’re living never stop changing, and we are encouraged to never stop growing — but growing comes with pain, it comes as a result of effort and investment, it comes bearing beauty and strength — and in a marriage, there is someone next to you, with whom you aim to be intertwined, who is also changing, and hopefully growing — and you can either get tripped up in the process, irritated by their change, distracted by your own, or you can make the choice to be better together — by learning to love the process and to process the love. Wash, rinse, repeat. Keep your relationship in the light of Grace, allow it to be watered by your community, and learn to love learning to love.

Happily Ever After requires intentional investment. There’s a slew of helpful resourcing out there, and even this is a list I’m sure I’ll be coming back to myself, because no one’s got it all together, least of all me. In learning to love actively, I have to remind myself to find my completion in my Creator, to kindle the connection with my husband, to cultivate open communication, to engage in encouraging community, and to celebrate the freedom found in the constant truths of Christ and the beautiful change of established growth. It is such a beautiful journey ❤ 

Guest Contributor:

Andie Fair.jpg

Andie Fair is the starry-eyed wife of her high school sweetheart, Executive Creative Director of Chaos to their kiddos, a quirky, open-door homemaker with a soul wired to explore the unknown, a heart crafted to lead with love, and a second mug of coffee forever in the microwave. She’s a certified health coach, aiming to make healthy living easier for families and a volunteer disciple maker who gets her thrills guiding others to engage in an active relationship with their Redeemer. She writes randomly and strives to live intentionally. 

The Task of Neighboring
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I’m a task driven person. I like ‘to do’ lists. I like checking things of my ‘to do’ lists. I sometimes add things to the lists so I can have the pleasure of literally checking them off. Because tasks are usually straightforward, I find them to be generally easy. You have a task, you work hard, you finish the task and then you get to check it off. The task is done and then you move on to the next one. 

People, however, are much different from tasks. People are complex. They can sometimes be complicated, needy and intricate. They require attention, relationship, and time. So how does a task person like myself prioritize the people around me? I kind of hate to admit it, but sometimes I think of people as tasks. I put them on a list, make a goal of relationship and am slowly checking them off as they turn from people into friends, and alter from tasks into life. This has been something I’ve been pursuing particularly with those who live nearby, my neighbors. 

I live in a very kid concentrated neighborhood where my kid's classmates are my neighbors. As a result of my oldest daughter entering the corner elementary school three years ago, I’ve been launched out into the neighborhood more and more. Walking her to school, greeting parents at pick-up, attending book fairs, volunteering at the school and of course SO MANY birthday parties!! These events can sometimes feel a bit obligatory. Rather than avoid or dread them, I’ve been trying to embrace this stage and use these occasions as opportunities to work on my people list.

Because I prefer lists to paragraphs, here is a little list of ideas I’ve found in my task of loving my neighbor.

  1. The purpose must be obedience. Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as ourself (Matthew 22:39; Galatians 5:14). We’re created and intended to love. If your motivation for loving your neighbor is obedience, there won’t be room for disappointment if your method of love isn’t reciprocated. Your neighbors may not love you back, at first or possibly ever and you have to be ok with that. Whether they wave back, say thank you or return the favor is irrelevant. The command still stands. Love your neighbor because He directs us to, not because you want to be a good person.
  2. Pray for your neighbors. Pray they’ll be healthy, happy and open. Pray that God softens their heart toward you and ultimately toward Him. Pray for God to soften your heart too. Pray for opportunities to help, serve and love them.
  3. Don’t miss an opportunity. Once your eyes and heart are open to trying to love your neighbor, you’ll be surprised at all the ways you can show love. Try to intentionally interact with them. Drop off Valentine treats, host an Easter egg hunt, grill all summer long, fire pit throughout autumn, trick or treat at their house, walk instead of drive when possible. It’s a little crazy to consider during an arctic blast but, get outside! If you’re waiting for them to come to you, you may be waiting forever. Go scrape their windshield, shovel their walkway, or bring up their trash can for them. There is no shortage of ways to show love. Google it. Seriously, “how to show love to your neighbor”, about 8,970,000 results.
  4. Don’t be too busy for them. Make time to love your neighbors. Leave margin in your schedule for the people who live closest to you. This can sometimes be the hardest part. Even harder than walking up to a strangers door to deliver goodies, is creating time in your ever busy life for someone you may barely know. For me, this isn’t about trying to be a people pleaser and always saying yes. It’s out of my obedience to His command that I make myself available to my neighbors as much as I can. There are things and events I say no to, sometimes even church events (Gasp!). This makes it possible for me to say “yes” to my neighbors. Most recently, neighbors have asked….“Can you walk my child home from school?” YES! “Do you have a yard tool I can borrow?” YES! “Do you know of any area preschools” YES! “Would you like to attend my event?” YES! There are many ways to show love. My best way in my current life stage as a stay at home mom of 3, is by saying yes and giving my neighbors a little bit of my time. If they're willing to ask, I’ll say yes as much as I can.

During the winter of 2009 while living in MD, my husband and I experienced a huge snow storm. The kind where it snowed heavy for two straight days, which resulted in us waiting nearly a week before seeing a plow truck. We had lived there maybe a year. He was in the Air Force, and I worked at our church. We loved our church. We had great friends there and it basically was our only social circle. We were so preoccupied with church services, planning meetings, special events, small group gatherings that we had no time for our neighbors. And this was pre-kid life! That snow storm forced us outside to shovel out our cars and our street, with our neighbors. Turns out, the people across the street were also a young married Air Force couple, that we had never met. They moved away just a few months later. Even though I may have felt like we didn’t really “need” more friends at the time, I sometimes wonder if they may have needed us. What a total missed opportunity!!

It’s a new year, which means 365 new days and 365 new chances to reach out to your neighbor. Whether you’re new to your street or have been there for some time, most people, even strangers, are at least somewhat open to their neighbor. Aren’t you? Wouldn’t you love for your neighbor to randomly knock on your door and offer kindness? If you’ve been hurt by a neighbor, pray for God to heal that wound and try again. If you’ve hurt a neighbor, ask for forgiveness and move forward. 

At this point, neighbor encounters have become unavoidable for me. My neighbors are everywhere I go, that’s due mostly to motherhood. As moms, like it or not, we are pushed out the doors of our comfort zones. Embrace the strangers around you. If you’re a mom and they’re a mom, you have an instant connection and immediate commonalities. Start there and see where it takes you. 

My neighbors are no longer tasks, they are my life. And I haven’t checked them off my list, because I’m not finished yet. I’m so humbled that God has placed me at my current address and chosen me to show love to my neighbors.