A Generous Grace

ideas on practical spirituality and loving each other

Month: September 2015

Your opportunity…vs. your call

opportunity vs call textIt was an opportunity.

She needed a place to stay. We have room. Well, when we’re not hosting others. What we didn’t have a lot of was margin. And as I heard more details about her story, something niggled at me. Our family’s weaknesses seemed like a poor fit for her very needs. When I got honest with myself, it didn’t seem something I could manage well, loving her and loving my family well at the same time.

But what I hate to say–almost always–is no.

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Now you’re speaking my [love] language: 20 ways to express affection through quality time

love languages text

If you’re new to the love languages concept, check out the 5 Love Languages website. Click here for 20 ways to express love through words of affirmation, here for the post on expressing love through physical touch, here for the post on expressing love through acts of service, and here for the post on expressing love through gift-giving.

1.Grab cards, a strategy game, or a board game to play together (er, without your cell phone present).
2.Play–or learn–a sport together.
3.Take lessons of some kind together: ballroom dancing, golf, watercolor, pottery–get creative! One mom I know took taekwondo with her son and daughter; right now my son and I are doing our best at guitar.
4.What hobbies does this person enjoy? Which ones could you enjoy together?
5.Head to an event together–a ball game, a concert, a play, a lecture, a comedian–and grab a bite to eat before or after.
6.Go for a walk or hike together.
7.Exercise together. You might even set a goal (“let’s do P90-X!” “let’s run a 5K!” “Let’s see if we can bench that much by the end of the month!).
8.This love language might be spelled T-I-M-E. Take a few moments after dinner’s over to just sit and talk; cuddle for a bit on the porch or sofa after work.
9.What haven’t you done in your community that begs to be seen or tackled? Check online, study the community calendar, ask around–and see what you can find that you could try out together. One friend of mine always has some local idea up her sleeve: mosaics, the children’s theater for the kids, some restaurant I’ve never heard of, a local art festival.
10.Meet him or her for lunch at school or work.
11.Take him or her out for breakfast on a Saturday morning, or for a spontaneous ice cream or coffee date.
12.For a daughter or son, get some great “girl time” or “guy time” together, whatever that looks like for you: snacks and a movie night, painting nails, paintballing–you get the idea.
13.Tackle a project together: a garden, a woodworking project, building a robot, rebuilding a car, sewing, landscaping, even participating in a play! For ideas, you could visit your local hobby or home improvement store.
14.What skills do you have that you’d be willing to share with your child, and they’d want to learn? Do they have interest in learning handyman skills, fishing, waterskiing, or mechanics? How to cook?
15.Together, plan a service project for people in your neighborhood or church: a block party, a date night for parents of babies and toddlers, a meal plan for someone battling cancer. Maybe you decide on a ministry you’d like to do together at church–teaching Sunday School, serving at the shelter, etc. Get excited and get on it.
16.Make it regular: Get a night on the calendar that’s consistently your night to be together on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis.
17.Plan a trip for just the two of you–and make the most of the anticipation, too.
18.If it’s appropriate, take your child to work with you occasionally so they can glimpse your world.
19.Maintain certain times when some electronics are verboten, like meal times, times together, or days of rest, so you can focus fully on each other without interruption and more surface-level forms of interaction.
20.Form a plan to serve your family together. Maybe it’s a family night (31 ideas here!)–making the budget, planning the activity, gathering supplies. Maybe you and your child plan a “gourmet” meal with all the trimmings, planning, cooking, and shopping for it together. Maybe you plan your next vacation together, and he maps out the routes, researches the sites, and presents ideas to everyone. Maybe you plan “12 Days of Christmas” fun for time when everyone is home.

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The Beautiful Blend

beautiful blend text

When I was last in the U.S., tinkering around in my mother’s kitchen, a remark caught my attention. “You know,” she said thoughtfully, “you and [your husband] are more different from any of your sisters and their husbands.” She and my dad are similar, too, come to think of it. She offered a few examples, and I had to admit: She was right.

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Counter-cultural Prayers for America (with free printable)

counter cultural prayersAuthor’s note: One my most beloved aspects of you, readers, is your inter-nationality. As you might tell by my life overseas, I have a deep appreciation for cultures other than my own; it shapes my life here. Allow me a brief diversion in these prayers for my own countrymen and one of the most influential nations on Earth–prayers partially gleaned from that perspective looking back at my own heritage.

I will rarely “get political” on this blog; I have people on both sides of most debates who I love dearly, and I personally prefer discussing issues in the context of loving relationships, rather than social media! Hopefully you’ll pray with me no matter your political persuasion. –Janel

Click here for a printable version of these prayers, and here for a half-page version suitable for bulletin inserts.

1.Pray for simplicity of time and material belongings. We are one of the wealthiest–and most hurried–cultures to ever walk planet Earth. Jesus’ words to a harried, distracted Martha ring with great truth: “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). Pray that God would be where our treasure and our hearts are, and that we would seek first His kingdom (Matthew 6:20-21,33).

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What did you expect?

what did you expect with text

It was standing in line at a quaint little cafe when I realized I’d lost it: my credit card. Fortunately, I had a pretty good idea where I’d left it. A grocery store had returned my shopper’s card, but not the Visa. Groan.

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Discussion Questions to Better Understand Your Family’s Subculture, #119-130

questions to understand subculture

If you’re new to this series, click here for the thoughts and guidelines behind it! 

Coming soon: A FREE E-BOOK of these discussion questions for subscribers/followers. (Thanks, followers! I appreciate you!) Stay tuned.

119. What were nicknames given to your family members–and the stories behind them?

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Now you’re speaking my love language: 20 ways to display affection through acts of service

love languages textIf you’re new to the love languages concept, check out the 5 Love Languages website. Click here for 20 ways to express love through words of affirmation, here for the post on expressing love through physical touch. and here for the post on expressing love through gift-giving.

I’ll use “him” or “her” interchangeably in this post for ease of reading.

1.Knock out that item on her to-do list she just hasn’t gotten to.
2.What little touches could better make your home a “prepared place”–like God creates for us–that’s comforting, encouraging, and uplifting, so family and guests feel embraced? For guests, it may be the basket of extra toiletries next to the cozy towel in the bathroom; for kids, you could have a favorite snack ready when he arrives home; help him remove his backpack.

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Now you’re speaking my [love] language: Showing affection through gifts

love languages textIf you’re new to the love languages concept, check out the 5 Love Languages website. Click here for 20 ways to express love through words of affirmation, and here for the post on expressing love through physical touch.

I’ll use “him” or “her” interchangeably in this post for ease of reading.

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Now you’re speaking my [love] language: 20 ways to express affection through physical touch

love languages textIf you’re new to the love languages concept, check out the 5 Love Languages website. Click here for the post on showing affection through words of affirmation.

1.Put an arm around his or her shoulder.
2.Hug them in the morning, or when they arrive home, or to wish them good night.
3.Sit next to each other while watching a movie.
4.Throw your arms around their neck while they’re sitting in a chair.
5.Give them a foot rub.
6.Ask to massage their hands while you chat.
7.Give a home pedicure: Soak her feet, then rub, lotion, and varnish while you shoot the breeze. (I love doing this with friends on my back porch while we enjoy a cup of tea.)
8.Surprise your spouse with a massage before hitting the sack.
9.When coming up behind him or her, place a hand gently on the small of his or her back.
10.Grab his or her hand while you’re out and about.
11.Romantically grab your spouse (hello–not like a piece of meat, but demonstrating your desire).
12.Cuddle up whiile reading a book together.
13.Slip an arm around his or her waist while you’re running errands.
14.Give a scalp massage.
15.Surprise them with a gift certificate for a massage or pedicure.
16.Shower with your spouse, and soap him or her up and wash your partner’s hair.
17.Allow your child to sit on your lap and tell you about their day.
18.Rub a child with lotion-preferably a scented one, to help create great memories!–at bedtime while you debrief about life and pray for him or her.
19.Touch your spouse’s face affectionately.
20.Kiss him or her for no reason at all.

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For the days when helping hurts [you]

helping hurts

At first, I thought she cheated my son.

But when, yielding to my call, she trudged back up the steep grade of our hill, my frustration softened. Her wide black eyes slid up to mine, her forehead glimmering in sweat. Her faded, two-sizes-too-large men’s T-shirt was pocked with holes. She must have been walking nearly the entirety of the morning in those foam shower slippers with the toes long gone and sizeable gaps in their soles. She was thirteen, though looked all of eleven.

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