Love Equates Serving

The scattered mind. 
I can’t sleep, I’m not hungry, I’m not interested, I’m not me. Then who am I and what am I doing here? How did I get here? When did I let it all fall apart? I feel like Humpty Dumpty and I need to be put back together again. 
Life has been all about finding a cause and alternative therapies for my husband’s illness. My prayer life surrounds my words of asking God to make me have a servant’s heart. I want to love, serve, and help my husband in the manner that he needs without taking away his pride in doing things for himself. 
Make me a servant.
Serving each other is an act of love especially in the marriage relationship. When we look at it in this manner, we use our talents and gifts as loving offerings and expressions of love. 
An example of this. My husband needed some compression socks and knowing he didn’t have the time for such research, I took the bull by the horns and did the research on my own. Working with the criteria he gave me, I found exactly what he was looking for. He loves his new “Foot hugging socks” so much he went and ordered more. Everyday he thanks me for this little act of loving service and everyday I am thankful for having my capabilities. 
When we realize that our main responsibility in marriage is to serve one another in love our marriage takes on a whole new persona. 

10 loving ways to serve your mate

  1.  Take care of yourself. Don’t let the cares of this life bring you down. Pray, do your bible study, meditate, exercise, eat healthy. You can’t give what you don’t have. If you’re sick, it’s more difficult to serve. 
  2.  Ask your mate what he wants. I make my husband his two veggie and fruit smoothies every night before going to bed so he has them ready to go in the morning. This way I know he’s eaten properly and he doesn’t have to get up earlier than he does. (4 a.m. is early enough).
  3. Exercise together. Go for walks, bike rides, hikes etc. doing it together helps you encourage one another and brings you closer together. If you have children, bring them along or hire a sitter so you can have one-on-one time with each other.
  4. Turn off the TV and all your devices when you eat meals together. Give each other undivided attention. 
  5.  Use manners when talking to each other. Please, thank you, excuse me go much farther than demanding and condescending. 
  6. Encourage each other, especially when one of you is ill. Don’t let your mate’s illness stop your loving words of encouragement.
  7.  When our kids moved out of the house, we divided up the chores between us. If we can’t get to one of them, we let each other know and help each other out. 
  8. Relationships are a 100% commitment. Once we get this into our head and really understand it, we’re better able to clean a toilet, iron a shirt, or other mundane tasks. 
  9. Make allowances of our time for your mate. It only takes me 15 minutes to make two shakes for my husband. 15 minutes out of my day to say “I love you” and make sure he has a nutritious breakfast and lunch is a joy to me. 
  10. The first act of service we should do for our mates is to pray for them. Pray for their safety, their health, their wealth, their minds, their hearts, their visions, their works, their relationships, and whatever else you can think of that needs praying over. Spending time with one another will give you what you need to pray about. Sometimes my husband will tell me, “I’m having a problem with __________, can you pray about for me?” 

Love Equates Serving

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IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME COMING

I must admit, I too am part of the group of people who sometimes lets the circumstances of life get to her. Let’s face it we all have days and sometimes weeks where we get down and need to take some time to regroup and regather our thoughts. That’s what this time away has been for me. It’s been a long time coming with what I’ve been dealing with these last few months.

So many times I think we always feel the need to keep going no matter what happens in our lives, that we lose focus of what’s really important to us. We can get up every morning and still have the same feelings of the day before if we don’t deal with them before we go to bed.

Last week I heard a message from John Maxwell and then something similar from Rick Warren about how it doesn’t matter how much you can get done in a day. What matters most is how much have you imitated God in a day. Last week I wrote “Was I an imitator of God today?” and posted it on the wall that I see first thing in the morning and in my bathroom where it is the last thing I see before retiring at night.

Was I am imitator of God today

I don’t find the answers to this question in my list of things to do. I find the answers to this question from my prayers for the people in my life and even my  enemies,the smiles I give to strangers, the helping hand I give to someone in need, the uplifting words I used throughout the day, the forgiveness I give to people who have hurt me (and continue to hurt me), the ability to turn the other cheek when accusations are hurled at me, standing up for the truth of God, the compassion I show, and the love that I show to all people I come into contact with. 

I stopped making a to-do list and started concentrating on this question each day.  When I was in school and had to read a large section of text for assignments I would read through the questions at the end of the sections, because it made me focus more on the answers when they presented themselves. So when I read the question “Was I an imitator of God today?”in the morning, it opens me up to opportunities where I can imitate God with the talents He gave me.

I’m not saying that just reading the question will make things happen, you have to have faith and be willing to put yourself to the side to  learn how to live God’s way of life. You can’t imitate anyone unless you know them. So in order to know God you need to read His Word. Study His Word. Meditate on His Word and Pray.

So while it’s been a long time coming, it has been a time where I regrouped and refocused my thoughts to what’s really important for me.

To quote a famous coach, Vince Lombardi, and the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer:

“God, family, and everything else; in that order!”

LETTERS HOME

There is nothing so cherishing as receiving a card or letter from a loved one in the mail. Yes snail mail. Most of the mail we get anymore is junk mail, sales flyers, credit card offers, and magazine subscriptions. But getting that letter touching the envelope, smelling it, carefully opening it to preserve it has become something of a sacred ceremony. Sending letters home are cherished because it shows that you were willing to take the time out of your busy life to think about them.

letter-writing

We live in the instant where everyone writes in short hyphenated blobs of letters instead of complete thoughts. Text messages, emails, instant messages, Facebook posts, and tweets have replaced a letter home or a card to a loved one on their birthday.

I remember going through a box of my mom’s old letters when I ran across a letter my dad sent my mom before they were married. In it he asked her to marry him. He wrote and sent this letter while he was stationed at his FOB in 1945. He wrote other letters to my mom, and sent her cards along the way as well. I am so thankful my mom saved everything, because I got to touch a bit of family history.

Every time I go through my own cards that my sons have given and made me, that my husband has given me, I touch a love history that no one else can know. It’s sentimental, it’s beautiful and it’s mine. I get to share this love history with my family. It’s personal, it’s tangible. Sorry but you can’t hold a text message up to your heart, and feel the person’s feelings coming through your phone screen.

While writing this post I’m reading a letter that was sent to me, by someone I used to dream about when I was 16. God granted me that dream. It’s so special to me to see his words and feel his love come through the pages with every stroke of the pen he took, I know he wrote it with love in his heart.

Write a letter home, send a card. Reconnect with your loved ones. Give them something tangible to embrace.  Something that shows future generations just how much love you’ve had in your life.

Send some letters home!

My Mom

I was recently flipping through some really old woman’s magazines that I had saved from the recycling bin when my Mom was moving. The dates are from the 1960’s and 1970’s; my Mom saved magazines because “you just never know when you might need that information again.” As I was flipping through them I noticed that Mom had cut out the coupons, and anything had a free offer on it. In looking at the free offers on each of the pages I began to realize that many of the items we had in our home growing up came from those pages. We had all the book sets, knick-knacks, pictures hanging on the walls, craft kits, yarn, socks, sewing supplies that were all advertised on these pages with the address box cut out. It was nice to know that my freebie shopping and free sample hobby was part of who I am because of my Mom.

Ruth Mazzocco (aka: My Mom)

 She instilled in me that if you can’t get something for free at least get it for half-off. I learned how to shop from my Mom; who never paid full price for anything. If we were in the grocery store and bananas were a day past their freshness she would ask to have them for pennies. She would shop with the intent on having money left over in the grocery budget so she could fund one of her obsessions. She had two obsessions material and yarn. While never sewed, she loved the feel of material, the different patterns and colors. But the yarn she used and used well. Mom kept us warm in the winter with her blankets, sweaters, and slippers she made for all of us even the dog.

Leonard & Ruth Mazzocco (my Dad & Mom)

I’m a lot like my mom. I love freebies, I never pay full price for anything, I love material (only I sew), I love yarn, and I love to cook just like my mom did. There’s not a day that goes by that I am not using one of the skills she taught me.  Mother’s Day comes and goes each year but it is a daily praise I give my Mom when I share what she has taught me with others in my life. I love and miss you, Mom!

TIP #10: HANDMADE

Who doesn’t like a gift that’s handmade? I love receiving gifts that are handmade because it shows that the giver really put their time and energy into the gift. They made this gift with me in mind. If you give handmade gifts you know that these gifts save money, because you’ve only had to pay for the supplies and not the craftsmanship hours to make it.

I love giving handmade gifts. About 7 years ago I told my husband that from now on I would give a homemade gift to my friends and families for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, baby showers, bridal showers and other times when a gift would be appropriate. I use my talents as a skilled crocheter to make blankets for newborns. I’ve used my cooking skills to make up food for people who come home from surgery, I’ve even used my keen eye to help people who are color blind to put together clothing outfits out of the clothes in their closets.

Instead of just running out to purchase a nonsense gift for your next gift giving occasion, why not use the talents you have to give them something they will cherish forever. Even more make a commitment to only give gifts that are handmade by you.

Don’t think you have a talent worth giving here are some gifts that would be greatly appreciated.

  • Clean someone house for them.
  • Record yourself reading books for your grandchildren
  • Record yourself playing or singing a favorite song
  • Wash their car
  • Mow your friend’s lawn
  • Make up a special dinner
  • Type out some interesting quotes
  • Get your friends together and give a special spa day you all do yourself.

While these are some simple things you can do that say “I took time to think about you.” They may be small in comparison to a store-bought gift but they mean so much more. When we spend our time and energy on other people not only do we save money, but we bridge the gap of love. 

TIP #2: THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS

One of my favorite Bible verses is from Philippians “Finally, beloved, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NRSVA) Every time I read this verse I think about my grandfather.

open_bible

I’m often finding myself remembering my grandfather who used to sit in his rocking chair in our living room reading his Polish Bible. That’s the only thing he ever read. When he finished it from beginning to end, he would start reading it again. I think that’s what helped him live to the ripe old age of 86.

My grandfather worked diligently in his own garden until two days before he died. We had the best garden in the neighborhood, because of my grandfather’s love and tender care of growing the plants that he had started in our basement under grow lights.

Whenever we had company they would talk to my grandfather about what he read in the Bible and what he was growing in our garden. One day I remember he got into an argument with my mom, his daughter, about gossiping. He heard my mom on the phone with her friend talking about another neighbor across the street from us, and how their yard looked.  When we all thought my grandfather couldn’t understand English because he chose to speak in broken English. We were amazed at how much he did understand.

He asked my mom if she knew about what was happening within the four walls our neighbor’s home. My grandfather knew what was happening with each of the neighbors we had because he always shared what we grew with people around us. He asked if there was anything he could do for them. My mom on the other hand thought my grandfather was just a nuisance to people, and felt embarrassed by him.

Back to our neighbors, my grandfather told my mom that the reason their lawn was not kept so nicely was because the man of the house was in an accident at work and couldn’t take care of the lawn. Then my grandfather started talking to my mom, very loudly, in Polish. When they were done with their argument, she called her friend and they put together several baskets of food for the family and we all helped out by taking care of their lawn and other errands that needed to get done.

If we harness our thoughts to thinking about the words of God instead of the mundane words that just flit out of our mouths. We would be able to get over own pride and be like my grandfather who helped anyone and everyone. But in order to think about God’s words we also need to do what my grandfather did, and READ our Bibles.

DAY 25: EXERCISE LOVE

At the beginning of this month I never thought I would love to exercise as much as I do now. I’m not talking about spending hours at the gym, I still don’t like gyms. But I love to exercise. In the morning while watching documentaries either on PBS or a DVD I do Pilates, Callanetics, or just some stretching. But this month has shown both my husband and I that walking together is really helping our health and our relationship.

I read a book this month The Wisdom of Tuscany by Ferenc Mate. This was the book that I chose to read aloud to my husband while we drove long distances and while we sat on the couch after our walks. One thing that we really learned was that we can incorporate the simplistic lifestyle of the Tuscany region into our own lives. And we did. The Tuscan’s walk every where that is 3.5 miles or less. I wonder if that’s why my ancestors were healthier than my family is today.

walking

So my husband and I instituted this new rule for ourselves. If our destination is 3 miles or less we walk. This means that we need to take the time to coordinate our walking map and make sure we take the appropriate supplies like a backpack and other shopping bags. Last week when I walked to the store I just had the bagger make sure that the weight was level in the pack so I could walk home (the grocery store is 1.5 miles both ways). Yesterday we walked 4.5 miles going to the farm store (so I could look at the baby chicks), then to the electronics store (to look at new phones), and the grocery store I do my bulk shopping in. It’s interesting at how you rethink your needs when you have to carry home the purchases.

These walks have become our time to be together but it’s also our time to dream together. We walk down to the harbor which is 3 miles one way, stop for a cup of coffee, run into friends, and then walk back. These walks are also helping us get back in hiking shape. We are often asked, “What if rains?” We live on Puget Sound, it’s gonna rain. So we get wet. It’s only water.

Not only are we helping our health and relationship we are also helping our gas budget.

Here are some other ways to turn a love-hate relationship with exercise into exercise love.

  • Go dancing: if you don’t know how, take some classes!
  • No money for classes, follow the Walk Dance Guru
  • Get outside and play: get a jump rope and sing rope jumping songs like when you were a kid, play catch with your kids.
  • Go build some snow furniture. Remembering the fun you had in the snow when you were a kid, go out and build a snow man, snow furniture, or other snow animals. If you’re so inclined, shovel out half your yard and fill it with water and let it freeze. Instant ice skating rink! (My dad used to do this for us kids every winter!)
  • Go for a bike ride for fun: I love bicycle riding but not the way most people do. I love it because I love to watch my streamers blow in the wind. Yes, I said streamers! I have purple Gary Fisher bike with purple, pink, and yellow streamers which I made my husband put on each handle. For me bike riding is all about fun. I can’t wait to get my white basket put on the bike this summer.

Exercise love is about putting the fun back into our exercise programs. Take it from me, as someone who has many hang-ups when it comes to exercising, if I see it as fun I’ll want to do it more. Exercise and health go hand-in-hand! You can’t have good health if you don’t exercise!