Archive for January, 2010
One of my most treasured Valentines Day memories was a couple years ago when I was still single. Being single, and also a hopeless romantic, made every Valentines Day the most dreaded of holidays. Except for the year my dad purchased three roses for each of his daughters and wrote a simple note: “These roses represent the three ties that keep us together: You, Me and Jesus.” I’ll never forget that as long as I live.
Many of my siblings and friends often ask me for creative ideas for dates and memories. Always believing in collecting experiences over possessions I’ve come across some really fun things to do. Here is a brief list of things to do on Valentines Day whether you are single, dating or married.
- Get a group of single girl friends together. Dress up in evening gowns and treat yourself to an expensive restaurant. You’re worth it!
- Have a Champagne and Chocolate sleep over at your place. Make the center of discussion what your standards are in a man.
- Get a mixed group of single girls and guys together and play games: Poker, Guitar Hero “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”
- Go to Barnes&Noble and give each other 30 minutes to pick out the top three books that describe who you are. Meet back at the cafe, order a drink, and share with each other why you chose those books.
- Create for your man or woman a scavenger hunt, with clever clues that lead him/her to meaningful places that carry fond memories, until finally landing at the restaurant of your choice for a nice dinner.
- Ask an older, admired married couple to go to dinner with you. Have them share their love story, how they met, married and what they’ve experienced so far.
- Make a documentary video of your date, capturing all the important/funny aspects. Take the camera and computer to Star Bucks, upload the video and relive the entire night again. (With lots of laughs!)
- Cook a nice candle-lit steak dinner at home… in your nighty. (Make sure dinner is almost done cooking before your husband sees you… you won’t get very far after that–with dinner anyway!
- Make reservations to a local bed and breakfast. Pack an overnight bag, secure a babysitter, and surprise your husband/wife with a weekend away.
- Ladies, for a great gift idea: secure a photographer a couple weeks before Valentines Day to take Boudoir photos of you. Your husband will go crazy!
- Get a group of your married friends together and play Dirty Cupid--$10-$15 “date” gift played just like Dirty Santa!
- Try a Sample Platter Date: Get all dressed up, go to your four favorite restaurants, at the first one order an appetizer, second one a meal, third one, another meal, last place order your dessert. Take it all back to the house and have a pic-nick on the living room floor! Then, whatever else you’d like to do on the living room floor!
- Ditch the flannel nightgown. Surprise your husband with some new lingerie!
- After dinner, turn the lights down low, turn up the fire, put on some music and dance in your living room.
Have any other creative Valentines day ideas? What about Valentines Day memories? Share them in the comments.
Now the truth has been revealed. Encouragement is a woman’s #1 weapon. This weapon is so powerful and brings such effect on those we use it on.
I don’t want to leave this conversation without first reminding ourselves that encouragement is not just giving out complements. It’s not just making someone feel good about themselves. To think of encouragement in those terms would demean this powerful gift. When you encourage, you may have to challenge, speak firmly, point out faults, or push someone in a direction that may be uncomfortable.
When we encourage, we are not focusing on ourselves, but other people. This causes others to want to be around us, because they know any time spent with you will be encouraging, uplifting, challenging and joyful. When you become a woman of encouragement, you become a woman of charisma, possessing the power to influence anyone you might encounter.
For some of us this ability to encourage comes naturally, for others we may have to work at it. Wherever you find yourself in your journey to becoming a woman of encouragement, allow me to cause courage in you. There is nothing more powerful than the encouraging words of a woman. Remember, you have the ability, the duty, to cause courage in those around you. You have been given this awesome calling as a women. Let’s not let it go to waste.
Who do you need to encourage today? It may be you, your husband, your children a friend or family member… do not let today go by without speaking a word of encouragement.
Okay, let’s admit it. Maybe we don’t have “enemies” like what you think of when you hear the word (I don’t know maybe some of you do!) but we definately have people we:
- don’t get along with
- don’t understand
- don’t like
- People who intimidate us
- People who drive us crazy
I’ve learned that when I run into people like this the best way to deal with them is through the lense of encouragement. Instead of acting on what our flesh would like to do (strangle them, scream at them, trip them and act like nothing happened) we need to realize they are human beings just like us, created in the image of God. They deserve our love and respect just like anyone else.
Here’s an example: Think of someone you would love to meet. Perhaps its a celebrity. The President of the United States. Perhaps it’s Jesus himself, in the flesh! What would you do if they walked into your work, or home and asked for something to drink? Would you snicker at them? Talk about them behind their back? Trip them and act like nothing happened? NO! Hopefully, you would bend over backwards to serve this high profile individual. If that’s the way you would treat one group of people it’s also the way you should treat the people you do not like. God Himself tells us to “show no favoritism.” (James 2)
The weapon of encouragement can and should be used for this group of people as well. Yes, it might be a little more difficult, but the results of weilding the weapon of encouragment bring harmony to those hard to deal with relationships.
What do you do when dealing with “enemies”?
There is a quote I love. One that I try to live my life by. One that fits perfectly into our discussion on encouragement as a weapon. It goes like this…
People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be, not what you nag them to be.
As we continue to talk about using encouragement as a weapon we cannot overlook the importance of using this weapon for our husbands, children and families.
I would bet my life fighting for the truth that encouragement has tremendous power when we use it in our relationship with our husbands. Men naturally have a need for words of affirmation, especially from their wife. The reason this need exists has to do with the question they are always asking themselves “Do I have what it takes?” (Thank you Wild at Heart.) While our men should not find their self-worth in us, their wives, it doesn’t hurt to let our men know that we think the world of them.
But what if you don’t think the world of your man? What if he struggles to be the man God has called him to be? What if you are struggling in your marriage because you’re both not meeting the expectations of the other? Encourage anyway.
You want to see your man grow spiritually? Encourage him every time he does something remotely spiritual (goes to church, prays, talks about God, etc.) Instead of, “I wish we prayed more together!” say, “You are a great prayer warrior. Thank you for praying for us.” Want to see him grow in confidence? Encourage him every time he does something around the house. “Honey, you’re amazing! Is there anything you can’t do?” Want to see him grow relationally? You get the picture. People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be, not what you nag them to be. Change the way you talk to your husband and watch him change before your eyes.
Now, I’m not a mother, so those who are will have to share their thoughts here. However, I am a daughter to a great mother and have watched how encouragement has changed my life as she used it in our relationship. Words of affirmation are a HUGE part of a child’s love language, especially as they grow up in the home. This is where they find the confidence to face life as an adult. If you as their parent, aren’t encouraging your child, who do you think is? You want to see a child shut down? Don’t encourage them. Don’t praise them. Don’t challenge them to be better by telling them you know they can do it. You want to see a child thrive? Encourage them. Praise their work. Tell them you believe they can do anything and watch as they prove you right.
Maybe you don’t have a husband, or children, but God has put you in a family to prepare you to one day be a wife and mother. Use these truths with those in your family and watch as your influence with them grows. There is nothing more powerful than the encouraging words of a woman. Use the weapon well.
As we talk about the word “weapon” we must also talk about what it is we are combating. To use a weapon against something connotes that there is also an enemy. We all know that ultimately we fight against our spiritual enemy whose one goal is to take us out. But to say that a woman’s #1 weapon is encouragement, it signifies that there are certain enemies we fight against that may be more powerful than others.
Looking at the root word encouragement we find “courage.” So let’s think of some of the enemies that encouragement fights against:
- Low self-worth
Are there some others that you would like to add to the list?
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to using this weapon of encouragement, is that it must be used first and foremost for ourselves. You might think it is wrong to encourage yourself. Maybe you feel guilty for even needing encouragement. But here’s the truth, sister: We need and should take all the encouragement we can get. Especially if the only place we’re getting it is from our own brains.
Here are four thoughts on how you can encourage yourself:
- Read a Psalm a day. (Kind David, the man who wrote most of the Psalms was always encouraging himself in the Lord. He would often use words of praise to remind himself how great God was to him. He also often reminded the Lord that he was “blameless” and “righteous” which of course is the same way God sees us since we have been covered with the blood of Jesus.
- Change your Inner Dialogue. (No more negativity, girls! You can’t afford to think or talk badly about yourself. This type of behavior has got to stop! It is a huge sign of insecurity and no one likes to be around a negative person. If you discover that you often think less of yourself I want you to stop and ask: what would God say about me in this moment.)
- Ask a trusted friend or mentor to speak truth over you. (It’s okay to ask for some encouragement every now and again. Let’s face it, we are our own worst critics, but the encouragement of someone we know and love can go a long way in helping us see the truth of who we are.
- Encourage others. (Proverbs 11:25 says, “He who refreshes others, will himself be refreshed.” If you start to feel like you could use some encouragement chances are you’re not the only one. Find someone at work, at the gym, at church or wherever you are and encourage them. This means more than just giving a complement, it may mean spending some time talking and sharing with someone. Encourage others and you will also be encouraged.
Share your thoughts on other ways we can encourage ourselves.
As I was thinking of the title of this post, I asked my husband what he thought a woman’s #1 most powerful weapon was…
I looked at him with a shameful expression. “Come, on… really.”
I made him keep guessing and his ideas ranged from tears to gossip. I told him “You’re thinking about this all wrong. You’re thinking of a weapon as a negative thing.” (Which of course makes sense because he’s a Marine!)
And perhaps you did too when you read the title. But when I talk about a woman’s #1 most powerful weapon, I’m talking about a positive weapon, a weapon we use not only for others, but ourselves as well.
A Woman’s #1 Most Powerful Weapon is: ENCOURAGEMENT
I believe it is one of the purposes for which we were created. There is so much power in the action word, encourage. To miss the truth that it is our #1 most powerful weapon is a tragedy too many women find themselves facing. So this week we are going to be discussing the effects of this positive weapon of encouragement in these four areas:
- Our Loved Ones
- Our Enemies and
I hope you might join into the discussion by leaving a comment or Tweeting about this post so all can share. You can also grab the RSS feed down on the right hand column and have daily posts sent right to your e-mail.
Questions for discussion:
Do you agree that ENCOURAGEMENT is a woman’s #1 most powerful weapon? Why or why not?
How have you seen encouragement work positive outcomes in your life?
I’d like to finish out our series by talking about what I believe is the key to becoming a Spartan Woman. Everything we’ve talked about this week points to one central thought, one recurring theme as to why the Spartan Woman is the way she is.
Being a Spartan Woman means: Knowing life is hard, but resolving to fight through it anyway.
Life isn’t a piece of cake. It is full of it’s own difficulties, challenges and hardships. There are things that happen that we wish wouldn’t have. Things we’d like to change, but can’t. Things that interrupt our lives that we wish we could ignore. But stepping into your role as the Spartan Woman means you have a resolve to take life as it comes. It means you become all that you should be as the daughter of a Warrior KING, taking on many of His qualities as life requires them.
This may mean you’ll have to get dirty now and again. Fight life’s battles and not be afraid of getting hurt in the process. Stand up for yourself and those you love and not back down in the face of adversity. It may mean you have to do some things that you might not like to do. Say some things that may be hard to say, and all the while knowing this is just the life of a Spartan Woman.
How do we fight? We fight with our head. We fight with our hearts. We fight on our knees with dedication and passion. We resolve to never back down, or let circumstances overwhelm us, because we know that no weapon created against us will succeed.
We fight with a Sword so sharp it separates soul and spirit, bone and muscle, joints and marrow. We fight against fear, bondage and the attack of our spiritual enemies. We fight for ourselves, our husbands, children, friends and family. We do not fight alone or in our own power, but we fight knowing a power greater than ourselves backs us up. We fight together. We fight for each other, with each other, but never against each other. We fight for honor. Valor. Love. Truth. We fight for what is dear to us, knowing if we don’t do it who else will?
That’s the Spartan Woman I want to be. Who else is with me?
The picture of the Spartan Mother is full of sacrificial love and support. Though I claim to know nothing about being a mother, I know there is much to be learned from the Spartan Woman when it comes to her children.
The biggest thing I take away from the Spartan Woman’s interaction with her child is her encouragement. When the King and her little one are sparing with one another, hitting each other in the face, she doesn’t swoop down to rescue her little boy. She stands by loyally watching, knowing this is a necessary part of his growth.
From observations I have seen this is a hard thing to do for some mothers. Our natural instinct is to rescue and nurture. However, sometimes rescuing our children is not the best thing for them. Sometimes going through a hard and trying time where our children are getting beat down (maybe not literally, but figuratively) is a necessary part of their growth. But I’ve known some mothers who can’t stand to see their children suffer. So they swoop down and rescue them, stealing the life lesson that can’t be taught any other way.
But contrary to how we feel, always rescuing our children is not the role of a mother. I once looked up the word mother, not in the dictionary, but in my Word Origin book. This particular word is full of meaning when we go back and look at where it came from. The definition that stood out to me the most is that a mother is to “give rise to another.” Just like a sponge rises when it is doused in water, we as mothers are to give rise to our children. To douse them with the knowledge we have and watch them grow, to encourage them as they create their own ways of thinking and living. But never to steal from them by swooping in and rescuing them, keeping them from learning some of life’s toughest lessons.
This is an unfortunate circumstance. Why do mothers struggle with releasing their children to learn hard lessons? Maybe because their identity is wrapped up in their children. Maybe because their faith is weak. Maybe because they want to feel like they are in control, even though the truth is that nothing is in our control.
I don’t know, because I’m not a mother. But maybe you are. Share your thoughts with us.
Have you ever been guilty of “rescuing”?
Have you seen other mothers struggle with this mindset?
Perhaps the most fascinating role the Spartan Woman plays, is the role of a wife.
Queen Gorgo, is the wife of King Leonidas in the movie 300, which beautifully displays the truth that behind every good man, is a good woman.
There are several traits that stand out to me when seeing the Spartan Woman as a wife. But perhaps the most astounding is The Spartan Wife displays amazing control of emotion. When her King is about to leave for war, she simply tells him, “Spartan, come back with your shield, or on it.”
She knows the dangers that lie ahead of him. She has surrendered to the fact that he may die, and she may never see him again. Yet she has complete control of her emotions because she knows the duty that lays on her husbands shoulders. She won’t add to that pressure by acting on the fear and anxiety that separation brings. Why? Because she is a Spartan Wife.
Here’s where that speaks to me. My husband has to go out of town often. Nearly a week out of every month I’m without him. How do I act? I can tell you, it’s not like the Spartan Wife with her poise and control. Instead it’s more like a bratty three year old, complete with tears, bouts of pouting, and plenty of long sighs that we women know speak louder than words.
I realize this does nothing to help my husband. In fact it hinders him. He’s going into the battle. He can’t help the fact that his work pulls him away more periodically than I would like. He doesn’t need to step into the battle of providing for our family with a non supportive and whiny wife at home. He doesn’t need to feel the guilt that I want him to feel when I act on my emotions. That’s acting in selfishness. He needs me to stand up straight, keep my tears at bay, and tell him to go conquer the world because I know he can. That’s the way of the Spartan Wife.
But what if you’re not married yet? You can still begin to display the characteristics of the Spartan Woman. Do you often find yourself complaining that Mr. Right hasn’t shown up yet? Are you waiting around, believing the lie that you’re nobody until somebody loves you? Stand up straight, Spartan Woman! Wipe those tears away and know that your Spartan Warrior awaits his arrival. Pray for his safe return from battle so he can sweep you off your feet someday.
We, as women, are wired with emotions. They are a good and natural part of life. But the danger is when we use those emotions to manipulate the behavior of those around us, especially the behavior of our husbands. We know the power our emotions possess. But it’s time we use that power not for guilt trips and bitterness but to encourage, enable, and inspire our warrior husbands.
After all, behind every good man, is a good woman.
What kind of support system are you being for your husband?
Do you often find yourself using your emotion to manipulate, even if you don’t do it intentionally?
If you’re single, what emotional changes do you need to make to become like the Spartan Woman and be ready for your warrior someday?
What is a Spartan woman?
If you’ve ever seen the movie 300, you’d know that only “Spartan women, give birth to real Spartan men.” The Spartans were known fighters. Training their young men at a very young age to be warriors. To be a Spartan man you had to prove yourself in battle. But to be a Spartan woman was something else entirely.
I can’t tell you why exactly this fascination with the Spartan woman exists for me. I imagine because the Spartan woman represents all that we as women know we can be:
Self-reliant yet, a Passionate a Lover.
She is fearless in the face of battle and seems to have complete control of her emotions. Yet she is still completely woman to the core. How does she accomplish to be so fierce yet graceful at the same time? Poised, but with a wild furry behind her eyes? Love deeply but selflessly sacrifice it all for the sake of truth? What does it take to be a Spartan woman?
This week, we’ll start a conversation. It may be one ended as I dive into this treasure chest of gems, but I don’t care. There’s something to be learned here, something of value, that I believe every woman should know. To me, this is not just some character in a movie. She represents a deeper truth, one that I believe God would have our hearts discover.
So we’ll start with a question: What do you think it means to be a Spartan Woman?