Skipping the Valentine Gift

by Michele McCarthy

A wise person demonstrates patience, for mercy means holding your tongue. When you are insulted, be quick to forgive and forget it, for you are virtuous when you overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11 NASB

Ah, the cycles of gift giving! The bountiful, countless gift giving options marrieds appropriate. The “Surely if my husband loved me, he’d make a mental note of any gift I might enjoy, say, for Valentine’s Day or our anniversary. He’d remember the earrings, book or CD I mentioned and tuck the idea-nugget away on the gift giving list he carries in his man-card wallet. I just need to allow him to read my mind” cycle. No pressure there.

Then there’s the “no fail, surprise romantic dinner” rotation. But the steak burned or one of the kids got sick or the business meeting ran long, and dinner went cold. Dinner wasn’t the only thing cold that night.

Close behind: the “Let’s don’t give gifts this year” series. Yet one of you breaks the rule, thinking other said person will break the rule. Oops, the spouse with no gift to give feels like a heel.

All kidding aside, we can, at times, put pressure on our husbands or ourselves…wishing for mind readers that enable becoming the perfect fulfiller of our wants, gifts and dreams—much like the characters in a Hallmark movie. FICTION Hallmark movie, mind you. So much can go wrong and can lead to hurt and unforgiveness.

My husband is a good gift giver; it is often me that messes everything up. One time he bought me a special coffee maker and a beautiful white coffee cup. A sweet remembrance of our trip to Italy and our daily coffee “experiences”—always with a white cup. Poor guy, I hated to tell him I had just decided I needed to cut down my coffee habit. As soon as he has me figured out, I change my mind! Yes, I have returned gifts he has spent precious time finding.

This year, I’m skipping the nicely wrapped Valentine gift. Instead, I’ll offer my Valentine a richer sacrifice. I’d like to become (for him) unoffendable. Yes, what if I never again hold my husband accountable for my happiness, my worth, my value…even at Valentines…gift, no gift, thoughtless gift or greatest gift?

Have I matured enough in my walk with Christ? Am I as easily able to be unoffended with my husband as I am with others? I want to be consistently, kindly unoffendable. In our home. Holiday or not.

Jesus lived it. He gave and gave and whether appreciated or not, loved or not, received or not, beaten or not, He never gave an offended response. He loved continuously and unconditionally. Everyday. Everywhere.

Long ago I received the best LOVE gift ever, one that never fails. Jesus. When He took residence in me, His amazing love toward others, in kindness and truth, was to become who I am. I have the pleasure and power of learning to love like Christ.

Can you hear it? Maybe my husband will hum Nat King Cole singing a new song, “unoffendable that’s who you are…unoffendable both near and far…”

I will get my hubby a funny Valentine card to accompany a noticeable shift in my expectations. The key word being my. As I walk out who I am in Christ, I want to increase my love out of the overflow of Christ’s love for me, no gift expected in return or any need to be returned.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,  does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB

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Skipping the Valentine’s Gift – thoughts from Michele McCarthy on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Michele McCarthyAbout the author: A wife to her devoted husband and a mom of two fine young men, two fabulous daughters-in-law and five beautiful grandchildren, Michele McCarthy has served her family faithfully for years. She is now enjoying attending Lifestyle Christianity University and exploring long hidden talents of writing and watercolor. She has written a children’s book, Daddy and Me, that is currently at the publisher. She loves reading, scrapbooking, deep conversations and talking about Jesus.

Join the conversation: How is that gift cycle working for you?

The Molt

by Sheri Schofield

Have you ever been to a pond in early spring, when all the colorful ducks are swimming around, quacking and raising their young? It’s one of my favorite times to duck watch. The male mallard ducks are particularly beautiful, with their iridescent green heads, white collars, red breasts and blue-striped wings. This is the season when they are trying to attract female mallards, those plain, unadorned brown ducks on the pond. Eventually, the mallards pair up, build nests, and hatch ducklings. Life is busy and happy for the duck families.

But then comes The Molt. The males take off and go to a distant pond where they hang out together, turn grumpy, lose their beautiful feathers and get ugly.

This is a very difficult season for the female mallards. They are left behind to care for their young while they molt. They’re grumpy, too, but they have to watch the kids and molt at the same time. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

The next time the female sees her male partner, she probably thinks, “What did I ever see in him?” But her memory is short and she is kind. By the next spring, she’ll be looking for the bright plumage and sleek adornment her mate will develop. Once again, she will fall in love, help build a nest, and raise the ducklings. Wild mallards are monogamous. They stay with their mates year after year, through the good times and the bad.

Love forgives and forgets. Love doesn’t hold grudges. Love makes allowances for others to fail and to find victory. Though one’s mate may struggle at times, and though he may not look like the man one married anymore, love accepts. Love hopes for his best. Love supports. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love works toward a common good.

It is the same with one’s fellow Christian. Whether our brothers and sisters are doing well in their faith or whether they are struggling, we are told to be supportive and help them find victory. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (NLT)

Are you living through The Molt now? Or are you living in the springtime, when all is beautiful? Each season of life will call for different skills. But unity of focus and purpose is the key to survival. Are you focused on what will unite you?

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:13,14 NLT.

It is not always easy to forgive those who cut you out of social gatherings, or say unkind things about you to others! Sometimes our mates may say and do things that hurt us, and we may not want to forgive them. Nobody said this would be easy! But if we want to fulfill God’s purpose, we need to forgive and learn to live in harmony.

Our world is watching us. Will they see infighting and anger? Or will they see unity and love? We influence their destiny by our behavior.

We are all treasured by the One who loved us enough to die for us. So, Lord, teach us to love one another. . . even in The Molt.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance . . . . Three things will last forever – faith, hope and love – and greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:4-7, 13 NLT

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Living through the molt with grace – Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years, has just released her new book, The Prince And The Plan, to help parents lead their children into a saving knowledge of Jesus. Sheri was named Writer of the Year for 2018 at Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Join the Conversation: What season are you in? What helps you to unconditionally love the one who has treated you badly?