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Living for the Great Things

But the Greatest of These

Every human being who has ever lived has had the same number of hours in each day.  From the most famous president or king to the least-known person of all time, each has had the same amount of time given for each day.  Our Lord Himself, as He entered time and walked upon the earth, had twenty-four hours in each day.  Do you know how our Lord spent His time?  Jesus said that He always did those things that pleased the Father (John 8:29).  What are the things that please the Father?  What are the things that He considers “great” things?  How should we spend each day that we have been given upon this earth?

When asked which was the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus answered: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).

Do you want to live for the greatest things?  The greatest things in this life will never be the grandiose, showy things admired by men.  The greatest things that one could ever hope to attain to are loving God and loving others with the love of God.  This love will require all of your heart, all of your life, and all of your time.

The Bible speaks of important and great things, yet none is greater than love.  And now abideth faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

How great is faith?  Certainly, it is a great thing.  The Scriptures teach that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and that by grace are ye saved, through faith (Ephesians 2:8).  Most surely, faith is a great thing, but the greatest of these is love.

What a wonderful thing hope is!  Hope is that confident, sure expectation that God will do what He has said – and that confident assurance that He will come again.  Truly peace and rest come from hope, but the greatest of these is love.

Why is love the greatest of all things?  Perhaps it is because it brings much glory to our Lord, for it reflects Him as He is.  But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6).

Look closely:  it was because of His great love for us, even knowing how sinful that we were, that He died for us.  You see, He did what was for our true good, no matter the cost.  And indeed, the cost was great – it cost Him His only Son.  In this act, we see such demonstration of His love (Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:9-11).

Did you know that on the very evening that Jesus was going to be taken and eventually be crucified, He called His disciples together to emphasize some things to them?  Listen to the words of Jesus:  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34).  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13).  These things I command you, that ye love one another (John 15:17).  And the final words of the final prayer of Jesus to the Father:  And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it:  that the love wherewith Thou has loved Me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:26).  Yes, the greatest of these is love!

Listen as the Apostle Paul teaches why love is the greatest of all things: … For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.  For this, “Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet”; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  Love worketh no ill to his neighbor:  therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:8-10).  The Apostle Paul speaks this same truth as he writes to the Galatians:  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Galatians 5:14).  Yes, the greatest of these is love!

Do you want to live for the great things?  The greatest thing you can do for anyone is to love him or her as God has loved you.  No matter the depth of their sin, no matter the cost to you, no matter the response, you do what is for their truest good.  That is how God has loved you!

What is the greatest thing that you can do for your husband?  Love him, as God has loved you! What is the greatest thing that you can do for your children?  Love them, as God has loved you! What is the greatest thing that you can do for whoever comes to your mind?  Love them, as God has loved you! The Apostle John, who was taught by Jesus Himself in those final hours, declares:  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love (1 John 4:8).  And speaking of the sacrificial love of the Father in sending His only Son to bear our sins for forgiveness, John says:  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another (1 John 4:11).

Yes, the greatest of these is love!  Die to yourself, and live for the great things.  You only have twenty-four hours in each day.  And living for the great things is the most fulfilling life that you can find!

On that fateful night before Jesus was bound and taken away, He said to His disciples:  These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full (John 15:11).

Lord, renew our minds.  Remind us that we need not spend our lives consumed with ourselves.  You are a perfect Heavenly Father, and You care perfectly for Your children.  You will care for our needs.  Help us seek the great things – the truly great things.  And thank You, Lord,  for the great love wherewith You loved us. 

I Love My Child – Why Am I So Angry?

Why Am I So Angry?

It was before the days of home pregnancy tests.  I left the doctor’s office absolutely thrilled.  I was expecting our first child.  My husband and I had been married for three years, and now we had a new little one entering our family.  Everything seemed so perfect!

I began decorating a nursery, and yes, before the days of ultrasound where everyone knows if the little one will be a boy or girl.  I still recall the yellow and green Peter Rabbit decor.  Still, all seemed so perfect!

But as the pregnancy progressed, problems began to surface. My blood pressure rose, unexpected complications occurred, and by the time I was four months pregnant, I was on total bed rest.  My regular OB-GYN would no longer keep me as a patient, and I was referred to a high-risk doctor.  Through four long months of bed rest and an early c-section delivery, what occurred in my heart was a desire beyond description to have this baby.

After ten days of neonatal intensive care, I could finally bring my little bundle of joy home.  Truly he was my bundle of joy! Oh, how thankful I was to have this little one in my life and in my home!  He immediately became my ever-present “sidekick”.  I kept him right with me all the time, and if ever a mother delighted in an infant, I delighted in him.  Rocking, singing, nursing, playing, bathing – it was all a joy!  Again, I thought, all was perfect.

Months passed and turned into years, and a problem was developing.  My precious little boy had a mind and will of his own.  He was very strong-willed and determined to have his own way. I was intensely frustrated much of the time and found myself getting very angry with this one who I loved so dearly.  How could this be? And more importantly, how was I supposed to deal with him?

Through a  combination of circumstances, including my struggle in raising my son, I saw my need for The Lord, and it was then that I turned to Him for salvation.  The Lord began to change me, but I still fought with the anger that would arise in me.

I had a Master’s Degree in Education and a number of years experience in teaching kindergarten, but neither of those things equipped me for dealing with that anger.  I was spending time in the Bible and was growing in my spiritual life, but my problem handling my son persisted.

One evening after my husband had come in from work, he asked, regarding our son, “Do you always have to yell at him?”  Very irritated, I promptly replied, “I do NOT always yell at him!”  And then I thought – if he were here with him all day he would yell at him, too!  Something had gone terribly wrong.  In the course of time, my feelings of incredible delight toward my precious child had turned into utter frustration!

As the next few days passed, I heard my husband’s words echo over and over in my mind.  Finally, I began to realize that he was right.  I truly did love my child, but out of my frustration, I did not treat him as though I loved him!  And, yes, I did yell.  My husband’s words, which I had resented and resisted, had actually served as a wake up call for me.  It was then that I began to pray and ask for The Lord to help me with this anger.

I knew that somewhere in the Bible there was a Scripture about being angry and not sinning.  With my Bible and a concordance in hand, I set out on a search.  And there it was in Ephesians 4: 26 – Be angry and sin not …  Then I noticed a cross reference by this verse, so flipping pages I settled into Psalm 4:4 and began to read: Stand in awe and sin not : commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still.  Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in The Lord.

It was there that I found the steps that would bring me into total freedom from my anger problem.  I was a young Christian, and I took the Bible so literally.  This is exactly what I did that I might be angry, yet not sin.

  • I would go into the privacy of my bedroom, leaving the door open that I might hear to be aware of where my son was.
  • I would literally lay across my bed and talk to my own heart.
  • I would be still and calm myself down.
  • Based upon Hebrews 13:14-16, I learned that the sacrifices of righteousness are actually praise and giving thanks. So, again taking the Scriptures literally, I would praise my Lord and thank Him for my son and the blessings that I experienced as a mother.
  • Then, I would trust The Lord.

Time and again I would take myself through these steps and then deal calmly with my son as needed.  As I walked in these Scriptures, The Lord removed that anger from my heart and renewed the joy that I had experienced with my child as an infant.  I continued to grow in these truths until I no longer needed to withdraw physically to get control of myself.  I could stand right in the room and go through those steps within my heart.

Here was the key – As soon as I began to feel that anger begin to arise in me, I immediately had to go through my “steps” so that the anger would not spill out! Withdraw momentarily, be still, praise, give thanks, trust!  By the grace of God, that pattern became second nature to me, and over time, I was free!

My relationship with my child was renewed.  Once again, he became my little “sidekick”.  We spent all of our time together as we homeschooled for many years.  My little bundle of joy grew into a 6’4″ teenager, but he was still one of my greatest sources of joy!

Because when The Lord does a work, He does it fully, I must also share this part of the story.  When my son was in high school, one of his teachers came to me after church and shared that she had heard some of the students talking about their parents and how they treated them.  My son was in that conversation and had said, “In all my life, I only remember my Mom yelling at me two times!”  Wow! I thought.  My Lord had not only freed me from anger, but He had fully redeemed that whole part of our life.  It was as if it had never occurred.

I went home that night, laid across my bed, was still, praised My Lord, and offered up thanksgiving!  How wonderful is my God!  How wonderful is His grace! And how wonderful is His Word! To God be the glory!

Mom, Will You Play Legos With Me?

Will You Play Legos?I sat on the park bench, watching my eight-year old son playing with a friend. As I enjoyed the beauty of the day and the simple joy of the children laughing and playing, a Scripture came to my mind:  Love your children …  Oh no, there it is again, I thought!  That Scripture had been on my mind constantly, returning time and again.  Love your children … I had heard it over and over in my mind.  I knew the Lord was trying to speak to me, but I just didn’t understand.

What, Lord?  What are you trying to say?  Here we were at the park.  I had gotten his friend to play with him, picked up a pizza to bring along, and brought the boys to the park for the afternoon. Yet, I was hearing love your children again.  I was actually feeling a little frustrated and confused. I really didn’t know what The Lord was trying to get me to understand. What else did I need to do?

As the boys played, I ran many thoughts through my mind.  I truly did hundreds of things for my son.  I left a career to be a stay-at-home mom.  I cared for his physical needs impeccably.  He was very well-dressed at all times.  He was well-fed, with his nutrition as a priority of mine.  I homeschooled him, spending hours pouring into his heart the Word of God, as well as being certain that academically he functioned at the top of his age group.  But still the prompting persisted: Love your children.  I really didn’t know what more I could do.  I had given my life to raising him, and I reminded myself  once again of the multitude of things that I did for him.

Well, the play date was over. We took his friend home, and we happily returned to our home.  Happily for him, but I was still troubled within.  I knew there was something that I needed to learn.  I grabbed my Bible and withdrew to my room.  I bowed my heart before The Lord and asked Him to show me what He was trying to say.  I knew there was something that I just didn’t understand.

I opened my Bible to Titus 2 to the passage where older women are instructed to teach the younger women, and there it was … Love your children … Love your children … Love your children.  I knew that I had to understand that phrase.  I pulled out a Bible dictionary and searched for the definition.  What I found opened my eyes, spoke to my heart, and answered my question.  The word used here for love was not agape, the self-sacrificing love to which the Bible so frequently refers. This word for love was phileo, the kind of love that focuses on relationship. It actually describes a friendship love.  It was then that I saw the truth that I had missed. It was then that I understood.  I had spent years doing things “for” my son.  I had actually given my life to that.  But what The Lord was calling me to was to do things “with” my son.  I could see that I needed to focus, not only on the tasks at hand, but on the relationship.

I began to run so many things through my mind.  Yes,  I did that “for” him.   And I did that “for” him.  And I did that “for” him.  But there were not too many “with” things.  Even the afternoon outing to the park had been “for” him.  Then came the flood of questions that I heard replayed in my mind.  Mom, will you play Legos “with” me?  No, Mom has to fix dinner…  Mom, will you ride bikes “with” me?  No, Mom needs to do the laundry…   Mom, will you play a game “with” me?  No, Mom is busy right now.  The tears began to flow.  Now I saw.  Now I understood.  I had been so focused on all of the things that I did “for” my son that I was missing the most important thing of all – the relationship “with” him!

God did something major in my heart that day.  He gave me a new priority.  The truth love your children became very special to me.  Now, when my son would say: Mom, will you play Legos with me, I could hear the “with me” loud and clear.  And I would do my best to say: We sure can!  Even if I could not do it right at that moment, I was sure to let him know that we sure can!  Days turned into weeks.  Weeks turned into years.  Although I still made mistakes, I am thankful that The Lord persisted to teach me that truth.  Love your children – a truth I desperately needed to learn.

My son is grown now, with a family of his own.  Do I have any regrets in raising him?  Do I regret giving up a career to be a stay-at-home mom?  Not for a moment!  Do I regret giving all of those years to homeschooling him?  Not for a moment!  Do I regret painstakingly caring for his needs? Not for a moment!  Do I have any regrets at all? Only one comes to mind – that I would have taken every opportunity to do things “with” him.

The childhood years pass way too quickly.  Love your children. It is a decision that you will never regret!  Mom, will you play Legos with me?  We sure can!  We sure can!

Judith’s Story: A Woman of Strength and Honor

Image created with Pho.to.Lab app

Image created with Pho.to Lab app

Quite to my surprise, I was asked to give a testimony of a virtuous woman. First, I would like to say how very unqualified I feel to be called upon to undertake such a venture.  I am convinced that a true virtuous woman would never stand to sing her own praises.  A true virtuous woman knows well the struggles of this life as she attempts to walk in righteousness, and because she knows how often she falls so desperately short, she could never claim such a title for herself.  No, this would be something that I would be unable to do.

Then, can you imagine my surprise when my husband leaned over in a church service where the focus was on this type of woman and said:  You are exactly that kind of woman.  I, then, understood something more of this virtuous woman. Indeed, she didn’t make that claim for herself.  Proverbs 31:28 says that her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

So it matters not what I may say about myself.  The real question is what does my husband say?  And, what do my grown children say?  I suppose the realization of the qualities that this woman possesses comes more in looking back in reflection over time, rather than at one specific moment in time.  It is the consistency, the steadfastness, and the faithfulness that has been repeatedly seen through the years more than what someone sees just today, that causes one to stand and praise his wife or mother as a virtuous woman.  So, where does it all begin – being a virtuous woman?

The beginning place is always with God.  And this, too, was the beginning place with me.  I had to realize Who He is – the Almighty God, Creator of all things, holy and righteous beyond our understanding, but so loving and merciful that He would come to this earth, be born into the body of a human being, willingly suffer and die, taking the sins of humanity – including mine – in His own body to save fallen man and reconcile them to Holy God.  What a God!

With this personal understanding of God, an additional thing took place in my life.  Perhaps it can best be explained by a verse found in 2 Corinthians 8:5.  There we find a phrase that says that they first gave their own selves to The Lord and to us by the will of God.  My life had been given to The Lord.  I no longer belonged to myself; I now belonged to the living God.  My life was no longer my own; it now belonged to The Lord Jesus Christ.  But the verse continues to say that they gave themselves to us by the will of God.  And that is where the focus of my life changed.  My life was the Lord’s and was to be spent for others.  The others that surrounded my life, first and foremost, were my family.  The Lord, by His grace, began to show me, step by step, and day by day,ways that I could serve them – ways that I could encourage them – ways that I could comfort them.

But in the day to day experiences of life, I found that I would tire as I served The Lord by serving others.  However, because I had given my life to The Lord, I now found that my strength came from Him – a strength far surpassing anything that I had known.  Scripture says that the virtuous woman is a strong woman.  She girds her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.  And strength and honor are her clothing.  It was to The Lord that I would continually turn to find this ever-present help and strength from day to day.  I knew that The Lord was my strength, and I could make no claim of possessing it myself.

The Lord also gave me great contentment in being a wife and mother, laboring in unseen ways. He taught me that a virtuous woman does not seek recognition of her own.  She seeks to honor her husband and delights in him being known in the gates. I knew, in my heart, that was what my life was to be about – exalting my husband – serving him and my children.  How did I maintain this attitude?  Once again, it is The Lord.  He has taught me that His ways are right and good; I must deny myself, and I must not strive for my own ways.  He faithfully reminds me that my life is not about myself.  It is about Him – it is about His righteousness – it is about His holiness – it is about His glory.  I would slowly get a glimpse of this truth – that I must, above all else, reverence Him and His Word.  I must seek to do those things which were pleasing to Him.

Living just one day at a time, serving The Lord and serving those around me turned into weeks, months, and years of serving The Lord.  Then, amazingly, those years turned into a lifetime of serving Him.  Please don’t think for a moment that these things were easy.  How many times I struggled with myself.  How many times I failed miserably in that which The Lord had called me to do.  It seems, however, as The Lord forgives all of those failures, He also erases them from the minds of our husbands and children.  We may remember them regretfully, but are humbled and amazed as we hear our children rise up and call us blessed and our husbands praise us.

And lest you think I could never become a virtuous woman I would like to encourage you.  It comes little by little, day by day, so often in the simple ways.  It occurs when you do your husband good day after day.  It occurs when you take time to listen to your children.  It occurs when you care for them day after day, when no one stops to thank you.  It occurs when you cook, clean, and do laundry for your family, repeating the same tasks time and again. It occurs when you continue working at these things when you would rather quit and take a nap.  It occurs when you reach out to help others that you see in need. It occurs when you speak truth to those around you because you truly care.  It occurs when you look well into the ways of your household, refusing to neglect your calling.  And it occurs when you do these things day after day, year after year, because these things please your Lord.

Who can find a virtuous woman? Give your life first to The Lord, and then to those around you.  You may find, in time to come, that this virtuous woman is you!

Strength and honor are her clothing

And she shall rejoice in time to come.

Proverbs 31:25

Mountains of Laundry, Thousands of Meals

Mountains of Laundry

I stood at the washer transferring the same damp clothes to the dryer as I had done last week.  I loaded another load of clothes into the washer – the same clothes that I had loaded last week, then gathered up those that needed to be folded and put away – again the same clothes that I had folded and put away last week.  The cycle continued week after week.  I had come to the conclusion that this was a non-ending job.  I was sure that my family purposed to fill up the laundry basket at any rare moment that they found that it may be empty.

But I gathered up those clothes and brought them to the place where I sit to fold clothes.  As I continued folding clothes, I reflected on this continual laundry task that I faced weekly, and the drudgery of it all.  From there my mind wandered to another task, that of fixing meals.  Oh, I thought, cooking is not just a weekly task.  That one occurs over and over, over and over, over and over each day. Sometimes that one feels like a fast-running treadmill on which I can’t keep up.  Sometimes I have even thought – Mealtime again! It seems as if we just did that! They can’t be hungry again!

I’m sure most wives and moms have had those or similar thoughts at some time during their life.  But I recall when The Lord freed me from this drudgery.  Don’t misunderstand.  I still do laundry weekly and still prepare meals, just as often as before, but what he freed me from was the drudgery of it all.

What I learned was that my thinking was totally wrong!  I needed to see laundry and meals through the truth of God’s Word.  Laundry and meals in the Bible? There is nothing “spiritual” about that!  But that is exactly where I was wrong!

In a passage in 1 Timothy 6:6-8, the Scripture mentions contentment.  Then the Scripture says: And having food and raiment let us therewith be content.  What I saw through that Scripture was that food and clothing are the most basic needs that every person has.  Almost all other material things are optional, but food and clothing are necessities. Now I will agree that most Americans have far more food and clothing than needed, but nonetheless food and clothing are basic human needs.

Then, I saw my family through that truth.  The most basic physical needs that my family had was food and clothing.  And I had been given the privilege of meeting that need for them. For me, that was certainly a new way of looking at laundry and meals.

My mind went from there to the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, a woman who is familiar to us all.  I went through the Proverb, verse by verse, and was amazed at how much time this woman spent taking care of the food and clothing needs of her family.

She seeks wool, and flax, and works willingly with her hands. (clothing)

She is like the merchants’ ships; she brings her food from afar. (food)

She rises also while it is yet night, and gives meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.  (food)

She considers a field and buys it: with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. (food)

She lays her hand to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. (clothing)

She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.  (clothing)

She makes herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. (clothing)

She makes fine linen, and sells it. (clothing)

She looks well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness. (food and clothing)

At that moment, I saw the virtuous woman in a whole new way.  I knew the Scriptures described her as a woman strong in The Lord, as a woman who did good to her husband, as a woman to be honored, but what I now realized was that she spent most of her time caring for her family, and very much of that time was spent on the food and clothing needs of her family.

In all of my life, I had never seen laundry and meals as part of my serving The Lord. I had certainly never seen it as a “spiritual” work. That was the day that The Lord took the drudgery out of my housework.  I realized that all of those duties were not just responsibilities or obligations to be drudged through.  They were actually a large portion of my service to The Lord.

I began to see our home as a place of refuge for us all – a place where physical, emotional, and spiritual needs would be met.  My outlook changed.  My attitude changed.  Actually, it was my heart that changed.

I still have mountains of laundry to do and thousands of meals to prepare, and I still need to be reminded.  But this is what I now know – each load of laundry and each meal that I prepare is one more opportunity to serve my Lord by loving and serving my family.

And when the drudgery tries to sneak back in, and surely it does, I ask The Lord to remind me – these are the things that a woman that is strong in The Lord does – and she will be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. Proverbs 31:31

A Willing Heart

… She worketh willingly with her hands.

Proverbs 31:13

Isn’t it amazing the powerful impact that one word in the Scriptures can have?  As the virtuous woman is described in Proverbs 31, Scripture could have simply said that she works with her hands.  But there is a very important word inserted in this passage – and that word is willingly.  She worketh willingly with her hands.

We instantly get the picture of the virtuous woman’s heart.  The work that she does is not just an external action.  It initiates and results from a willing heart.  How different any work is when it is done willingly, rather than out of duty or obligation.  The end result may appear the same when the work is accomplished, but the journey along the way will be, oh, so very different.  The willing heart joys in the journey.  The obligated heart loses the joy.

A similar Scripture is found in 1 Peter 4:9:  Use hospitality one to another without grudging. There is to be a love and outreaching to others, seeking to serve their needs, but look at the remainder of the verse – without grudging.  You see, right actions could be taken to minister to others, but what was the condition of the heart?  Was this a willing service – or was it done with grudging? The Greek word for grudging is gongusmos and is described as a private complaining.  Perhaps the most private place of all that we complain is in our own heart.  It is that murmuring that we do – perhaps to others, perhaps to our own selves – that directly affects the way that we serve.

A full reading of the Proverbs 31 woman reveals no murmuring and no complaining, but rather a willing heart.  She worketh willingly with her hands.

But let’s look more closely at the word willingly.  This word is far more than just saying, “OK, I’ll do that and I won’t complain!”  The most common translation of this word is to take pleasure in; to delight in.  In fact, a full study of the word will show that Proverbs 31 is the only place that the word is translated as willingly.  It is most frequently translated as desire, delight, and pleasure.  So it is very appropriate to say that the virtuous woman desires her work, delights in her work, and takes pleasure in her work.  Isn’t that an interesting view of  her heart!

And in what kind of work was she delighting?  She was delighting in caring for her family.  She was taking pleasure in doing good to her husband.  She was delighting in looking well into the ways of her household.  She was taking pleasure in seeing that they were fed well and clothed well.  She was delighting in reaching out to those in need.  No wonder she is described as such a strong woman!  Her life is not about herself.  It is about her Lord, and it is about others.  And she delights in it!

Lord, we humbly ask that you renew our hearts, that they may be willing hearts – hearts that take pleasure in You and hearts that delight in serving You – hearts that work willingly – hearts that delight in serving our families and hearts that take pleasure in serving those in need.

 

A woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.

Proverbs 31:30

The above post was first printed in Dawning Light © 2003.

Peanuts on the Porch

imageIt was a Friday evening.  My husband had gotten home before me.  I could hear him bumping around out on the back porch.  Curious about what he was doing, I stepped to the door, and I could see him arranging things outside. Now, even more curious, I went out to where he was.  I had to smile.  Do you know what he was doing?

My husband was out on the porch preparing for a “porch date”!  I stood there admiring him for a few moments, thinking back on a multitude of memories – memories that wouldn’t really mean much to anyone else, but ones that meant so much to me.

I reflected on how our “porch dates” began. What has become a tradition for us began in the earlier years of our marriage when, quite frankly, we had no money to go on a real date. Although both of us had college degrees, my husband had chosen to start a small construction and remodeling business, and together, we had made the decision that I would homeschool our son.  These two decisions meant that both of us would leave well-paying jobs for the unknown!  By faith, we did exactly that!

The benefits for our family is a story of its own, but it was during this time, when we had so little money, that we learned how to plan simple (and cheap) family time and date time.  “Porch dates” were an unexpected outgrowth of these lessons learned.

“Porch dates” were simple.  We would set aside time, just for us, to sit on the back porch, have a simple snack, and just talk with one another.  That’s it! That’s all!  Just uninterrupted time for one another. (We didn’t even answer the phone if it rang!)  The best thing about the porch dates was how much each of us looked forward to that uninterrupted time!

But that day, as I watched him prepare the porch, pulling up the chairs and ottomans,  it became even more special.  He had taken the time to prepare one of my favorite snacks – boiled peanuts! For those of you who may never have heard of boiled peanuts, they are prepared by boiling newly harvested peanuts while they are still “green”.  This manner of serving peanuts, rather than roasting or parching, is a very “Southern” thing!

You may wonder why boiled peanuts are so special to me. I gained a love for boiled peanuts as a child.  I was raised in southeast Louisiana, and my grandparents farmed there.  When they harvested the peanuts, they would boil them, and we thought they were delicious!  My grandmother would also bag and freeze them for later.  I loved to go to my grandmother’s, mostly because she had time for us.  And a part of those memorable times included the boiled peanuts!  Interestingly enough, on some of our recent camping trips when we were able to take our grandchildren along, what do you suppose we brought?  You guessed it – boiled peanuts!  I only hope that I can create as many loving memories for my grandchildren as my grandmother did for me.

Why do I share these seemingly insignificant memories with you?  I share them to encourage you to cherish family traditions and maybe to start a few of your own.

I also encourage you to plan your own style of simple dates with your husband.  Recall something that you both enjoyed together in the past, and do it again, and again, and again!  It might just become your favorite tradition.  You know, even though, now we can afford dinner out, sometimes we prefer just to have a “porch date”, instead!

I’m thinking that this weekend I will plan our “porch date”.  David loves to sit by the fire barrel.  I think I will get chips and salsa, or maybe popcorn and lemonade, or I might get a little extravagant and make s’mores by the fire.  Who knows?  It might just turn out as special as peanuts on the porch!