A Generous Grace

ideas on practical spirituality and loving each other

Category: staying in love (page 1 of 3)

10 Easy-peasy, Promise-You-Can-Do-This Dates at Home (Just in Time for Valentine’s Day for All You Procrastinators!)

The finish line is in sight: The kids are headed to bed. Did I mention your knuckles are grazing the ground?

Aren’t you feeling creative? Romantic? Well. If I was thinking about something other than settling in for some Netflix–yes, romance sounds nice. Creativity sounds, um, exhausting. 

So let’s make it easy. Super-doable. (Hey,  this as much for me as for you.) Let’s stoke the fires of romance with the little energy you’ve got left.

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52 Fun, Easy Ways to Flirt with Your Spouse

  1. Text something sweet, sexy, thankful, or playful: Thanks for all you do to get us all out the door in the morning. You still take my breath away.
  2. Check your spouse’s calendar, and then kidnap her from work for a quick lunch or an afternoon romantic matinee.
  3. Bring his favorite coffee shop treat home.
  4. Leave a steamy voicemail.
  5. Load the dishwasher for her. (Trust me. It works.)
  6. Invite him to take a shower with you.
  7. Get a little “handsy” in the kitchen.
  8. Lay your head on his chest or tuck beneath his arm while you watch your Netflix fave.
  9. Compliment her in front of a friend.
  10. Pick up her favorite snack at the grocery store.
  11. Grab her hand while riding in the car.
  12. Encourage him about something he did well at work.
  13. Wrestle.
  14. Borrow the kids’ Nerf weapons.
  15. Encourage your kids to thank her for something she’s done for them.
  16. Write him a love note.
  17. Make her a homemade card.
  18. Give him a massage.
  19. Write her a sappy (or funny) poem.
  20. Read her a love poem. (Ideas here.)
  21. Rub her feet.
  22. Make him a compilation CD of songs that express your heart and relationship.
  23. Give her a scalp massage.
  24. Take a bath together.
  25. Buy her flowers.
  26. Kiss at every stoplight.
  27. Ask to hold her hand.
  28. Play with your kids together.
  29. Light candles.
  30. Wear perfume and pretty underthings.
  31. Speak her love language (free “cheat sheet” here).
  32. Clean up your bedroom.
  33. Take care of that one thing that’s been weighing on him.
  34. Make up a goofy song about her on the fly.
  35. Overlook something he did that was stupid.
  36. Call her to tell her something about your day.
  37. Advocate for her.
  38. Plan a date in.
  39. Remember one of your favorite lovemaking memories, and whisper it in his ear.
  40. Go on a walk.
  41. Paint her toenails.
  42. Thank him for something unexpected.
  43. Listen to her. Ask good questions. (Ideas here.)
  44. Initiate fun sex.
  45. Tell her about a memory you love from when you were dating.
  46. Pick up a bag of her favorite candy.
  47. Play a little jazz while you cook together. Grab her hand and dance for a moment.
  48. Develop a code for talking when the kids are in the room about possible lovemaking.
  49. Come to bed naked.
  50. Go stargazing.
  51. Pick up a small gift that will delight and surprise.
  52. Pray together.

Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering.

The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep-burning, unquenchable.

Henry Ward Beecher

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.

Song of Solomon 7:10

Give us your ideas in the comment section! How do you flirt with your spouse?

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An Open Letter: When You’re Tired of Doing the Right Thing

faithfulness tired of doing the right thing
Hey.

I was there just this past Saturday, too. Felt like it had been a year of keeping my head down, doing the right thing with a hopeful smile. Or maybe some tears. I’ve mentioned this last year my struggles with feeling powerless; with the tension of not living some dreams.

I may have even scrawled the phrase tired of a “Yes, sir” life in my journal this past weekend.

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Christian, Married–and Attracted Elsewhere

Hey.

Thanks for being open with me.

Over your latte, I saw the concern in your eyes. I know this isn’t who you want to be; that you’re afraid of your own heart. But I know longing runs deep.

If only “I do” meant our eyes–or especially our spouse’s eyes, right?–never swiveled from our mate’s. But reality is, though marriage helps keep our attraction in one place, it doesn’t flip that switch for us.

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Know Thy [Stressed] Self, Part II: The Stressed Version of Your Marriage

Missed Part I? Grab it here.

One of the unexpected delights of our final couple of months in Africa was the arrival of a college friend who’s known my husband and I since the beginning. She watched us meet, cautiously date, giddily become engaged. She played the piano when the two of us spring chickens said “I do” forever. Later, I stood with her as she spoke her own vows beneath a spreading tree. And when she visited us in Africa and we stayed up entirely too late, she gave us this gift: I told my husband, “I love that she reminds us how good we are together. That you and I together are a really good thing.”

I wrote before that this time of leaving Africa, of setting a foot on two highly divergent continents, has delivered unavoidable stress to our relationship. Both of us are strained, so it makes sense that our most intimate relationships would bear that weight. So it was kind of God to remind us that despite the ways we occasionally feel like the losers in a three-legged-race right now—“us” is still a really good thing.

Part I of this post outlined some essential reasons we need to identify when we’re stressed. If you’re convinced, let’s get down to it. What are the signs your marriage is under stress?

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What’s Hidden inside Your Love Story?

Let us hope that we are all preceded in this world by a love story.

–Sweet Land (PG, 2005)

I tease my husband (the poor introvert!). Because whenever I write about him—he, who washes his hands of anything to do with internet attention—readers eat. It. Up.

What's Hidden in Your Love Story

But honestly, we’re all suckers for a good love story. Even if the characters are, say, a couple of anthropomorphic animated trolls with psychedelic hair. Yes, even guys, from Marvel comics to Jason Bourne.

We don’t just dig the attraction, gee-whiz-you-happen-to-be-exactly-the-Prince-Charming-I-was-keening-for stuff.  We watch (or read, or listen to the top 40) for two hours straight, or a whole TV season (or six), our spirits pressing the two together through everything life or a team of writers can throw at them.

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The Next Great Love Story

I was eighteen, it was February, and we were all headed on a road trip that weekend to a mutual friend’s house. I’ve wondered what God thought of that day, if perhaps He was rubbing His hands together with glee. The stage was set, everything immaculately timed.

In my memory, the young man was wearing a white T-shirt and khaki shorts. His hair was longer then, curly. Upon request, he prayed for our safe travel before we left. We all left for Oklahoma City and I climbed in behind the passenger’s seat of his car. I confess the thought may have flitted through my mind that his car was a little girly. That was before I knew he paid for it and maintained it himself, and before I’d ride around in it for the next five years, happy as a clam to be in his passenger’s seat.

That day, February 5, 1999, was the day I met the love of my life. If God would’ve tapped me on the shoulder—Hey, that guy over there? Yeah. That one. You two are going to have four kids, live in Africa. He’s the kind of best friend and man you couldn’t even imagine yourself having.

Like I said. I wonder if God just sat back and soaked in the love story He’d cooked up.

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Guest post: 9 Ways to Pray for Your Marriage in Tough Times

It’s been one of the most pressing seasons for our marriage.

We’ve been navigating a crux of major life decisions—only one of which included the continent we’d be living on. And our marriage that has been characterized by fairly fluid teamwork can at times be pulled taut by our diverging passions, longings, and reasoning.

“Stressed” doesn’t begin to cover it.

The most pleasantly surprising discovery of such a thin, exhausting stretch of marriage:  Despite all we were juggling–by God’s grace, we have remained (as Dan Allender calls it) intimate allies.

Ever wonder how to pray for your marriage in the thin, challenging times? This post is for you.

On many of the Wednesdays of 2017, I’ll be helping my friend Barbara Rainey, on everthinehome.com, explore what she calls “prayer lessons”: ideas to pray for ourselves, our most critical relationships, our communities. This week’s post, “9 Ways to Pray for Your Marriage,” gives some uber-practical ways to move in prayer toward what’s always a good decision: being more married, more one flesh. …Even, perhaps especially, in the tough times.

I hope it encourages you today, wherever this finds you.

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Friday quotables #5: For a Devoted New Year of “Open Windows”

friday quotables

 

“To be able to look backward and say, ‘This, this has been the finest year of my life’–that is glorious! But anticipation! To be able to look ahead and say, ‘The present year can and shall be better!’–that is more glorious! I have done nothing but open windows–God has done the rest. There has been a succession of marvelous experiences of the friendship of God. I resolved that I would succeed better this year with my experiment of filling every minute full of the thought of God than I succeeded last year. And I added another resolve–to be as wide open toward people and their need as I am toward God. Windows open outward as well as upward. Windows open especially downward where people need the most!

“…There is nothing that we can do excepting to throw ourselves open to God.”*

-Frank Laubach (1884-1970), missionary to the Philippines, estimated to have been responsible for teaching half of the 90,000 people in his area to read and write, and to have reached out to the Mohammedan Moros, who regarded the Christian Filipinos as enemies

*As quoted in Foster, Richard J. ad James Bryan Smith, eds. Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups: A Renovare Resource for Spiritual Renewal. New York: HarperCollins (1993), pp. 101, 105.

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Out of Insecurity: My Story

 

insecurity-2

He’s loved me through a lot, you know.

When we married 16 years ago—I at 19, he at 20—I was cripplingly insecure. It was as if I’d wrapped a leash around my neck, panting to be led by someone’s opinions.

The quick-and-dirty version of my downward spiral: I’d always been an achiever, loved appreciation; admiration. I was good at it. (Most of us are good at hunting what we crave.) My opinion of God, even, became tightly braided with what others saw and praised.

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