My Third Guest Post

August 22, 2012

Below is my final guest post for Power of the Home. I hope you enjoy it!

For this final post, I’d like to discuss some of the ways that 365 Acts of Love has shaped my relationship with and understanding of God.

(1) First off, through 365 Acts of Love, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of Christ’s sacrifice for me. Before 365, I could tell you all about Christ’s sacrifice—what he accomplished through it, what that meant for me, how that should affect the way I live, etc. I even had an idea of what it was like for him to go through such a sacrifice since I myself had made some (minor) self-sacrifices.

But through 365, I sacrificed more deeply for another person than I ever had before. It forced me to make huge changes to my day, and even my lifestyle, in order to love my wife. Those sacrifices gave me a deeper experiential knowledge of the nature of sacrifice, and consequently, a deeper understanding of what Christ went through in dying for myself and others.

Furthermore, the personal and tangible nature of my sacrifices made me realize how personal and tangible Christ’s sacrifice was. Christ, a real person, gave up his position in heaven to suffer and die in space and time on my behalf. He felt the pain of whips, the weight of the cross, and the sting of nails; the pain of wrath, the weight of sin, and the sting of betrayal. Compared to his sacrifice, mine are negligible. Even so, Christ’s sacrifice for me has become more real as I’ve experienced some of the pain (and joy) of serving my wife.

(2) I’ve grown deeper in my relationship with God. Because 365 is such a huge project, I’ve really had to rely on God to get through it. As part of that, I’ve been driven to prayer over and over and over this year which in turn has drawn me closer to God. I’m not saying that my relationship with him is perfect: I have such a long way to go that it’s not even funny (seriously, I’m not laughing right now). But at least I’ve made some progress.

(3) Finally, 365 Acts of Love has helped me view God less as an abstract, impersonal object and more as a person.

Before I explain this, allow me to give you a little of my backstory. I grew up in a Christian home, but it took me a while to make my faith my own. When I got to college, I realized that I didn’t have much evidence for thinking that Christianity is true. Naturally, doubts about my belief system cropped up in my mind. I eventually realized that I needed to investigate the truth claims of Christianity for myself to determine whether or not I should keep believing in it.

After much investigation, which involved some serious sacrifices of time and money for my wife and me, it seemed to me that Christianity was true. So I continued to believe in it. Even so, accepting it had more to do with accepting certain propositions as true than it did with developing a relationship with God. Furthermore, I think I (unintentionally) viewed God himself as more of a proposition or a concept than a person.

Over time, though, God became more personal to me as I attempted to grow closer to him. This relates to my blog in the following way. 365 Acts of Love expedited my transition from viewing God as a concept to viewing him as a person. It seems that a catalyst for this change stemmed from the fact that I began to view my wife more like a person, which was a result of 365 Acts of Love. Basically, 365 forced me to treat my wife with more respect and show her more love—that is, it forced me to treat her more like a person. As it did this, I began viewing her more like a person. And somehow, this affected my view of God. I really began to see him as someone with reason and emotions and desires and a will, as someone I could relate to. I don’t know why the change in perspective toward my wife changed my perspective of God, but it did.

Overall, I can’t believe how far-reaching the effects of 365 Acts of Love have been. And I’m sure it has been more effective than I realize and will continue affecting things for the better. I’m so thankful that I chose to do it.

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My Guest Post

June 27, 2012

Note for my wife: Unlike my typical posts, this one is not addressed directly to you, though it’s about you. 

I recently wrote an article for a marriage and family website called Power of the Home.  Here‘s a link to the article and you can also read it here:

About nine months ago, I committed to doing an intentional act of love for my wife every day for a year and I’ve been keeping track of my project—which I’ve called 365 Acts of Love—at my blog. In that time, I’ve committed a wide variety of acts: I’ve written my wife numerous love notes, given her tons of massages, taken her on a whale-watching tour by helicopter, filled our living room with balloons (which were themselves filled with candy and love notes), watched the kids on various occasions so she could go shopping or get coffee with a friend, taken her on a sunset cruise, and the list goes on. As it turns out, this year has been one of the more challenging years of my life.

What drove me to make this huge commitment? Whether or not some lesser commitment would’ve sufficed (an act of love a week, maybe?), I took on this project to rekindle my love for my wife. When she and I first started dating, growing in love for each other was easy. But then, life happened: we had kids and we worked hard to pay the bills and to keep me in school. Keeping our romance aflame got put on the back burner.

Still, it seemed to me that things were okay. My wife and I enjoyed each other and lead relatively happy lives. However, she would occasionally tell me that I wasn’t doing much to show her that I love her. That seemed absurd to me. As she said that more and more, my response changed from confusion to utter annoyance.

Then everything came to a head about a year ago. While driving to the beach, we got into a heated discussion. She told me that I don’t do much to show her that I love her and I maintained the opposite. I told her that I show my love by consistently helping out around the house, being there for the family all the time, going grocery shopping with her every week, working really hard to support our family, etc. I got frustrated because I couldn’t understand why that wasn’t enough. “I’ve given everything for you and our family and I’ve loved every minute! What more could you want from me?!” I thought I had her. How could she argue with that? Very well, it turned out. She said she appreciates those things, but she wants more. She said that she wants to be romanced, but that I don’t do that. She was right—I rarely brought her flowers or told her that I love her or wrote her love notes or held her hand or told her she’s beautiful or took her on dates. Somewhere along our journey, I stopped romancing her. In spite of all that I did for her, I took our relationship for granted.

After that conversation, I decided to change. But I knew that unless I did something systematic, the change wouldn’t last. So I came up with the idea for my blog. It required me to be consistent with its built in accountability and seemed like a great opportunity for change. I thus committed to 365 Acts of Love by creating the blog and posting this resolution:

You are my beloved and I am yours. But after several years of marriage, I’ve grown passive about our relationship–no longer do I passionately pursue your love nor express mine. I’m not sure how or why this happened, but I know that I want it to change. I love you, but desire to love you more and want you to feel loved by me. So, starting today, I’m resolving to commit a different, intentional act of love for you every day for a year, so that our relationship may thrive once again . . . By blogging about this journey, I hope to preserve the memory of this year as a gift to you.

Since I started this project, I’ve realized that my problem is more than just a lack of romance. By not putting the effort into our relationship that it required, I was being selfish. I wasn’t romancing my wife, not because the kids or school or work got in the way, but because my thoughts, desires, will, etc. were all turned toward myself. And it ate away at our relationship.

But 365 Acts of Love has changed things for the better. For one, it’s made an astounding difference in our relationship. 42 days into the project, I said this:

I’m happy to say that after 42 days, I don’t just see a need to romance you, I want to romance you. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 343 days.

And 70 days into the project, my wife told me this:

I feel like we’re friends again. Happy friends. Not just roommates . . . It’s clear you’ve been thinking about me during the day. Like how you gave me that coffee card . . .You’ve been so romantic lately. That’s exactly what I’ve wanted from you this entire time. That’s exactly what I’ve been talking about.

Our relationship has really grown and we’re more unified than we’ve ever been. We’re experiencing a joy that’s been absent for a while. We’re happy to serve one another and we’re setting our sights on serving people outside of our family.

365 Acts of Love is also changing us as individuals. I’ve noticed that serving my wife and family comes more naturally than before (though it’s still a struggle). In addition, my desire has strengthened a ton to keep our relationship and our family together, healthy, happy, and centered on God. And I’ve gained a renewed desire to be the kind of man that God designed me to be.

As for my wife, she’s happier—even giddier—and more confident. She’s more willing to try new things, daring things (at least for her), like riding in a helicopter. She’s putting a bunch of effort into centering our home around loving and glorifying God. And she’s opened herself up to me like never before.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve taken away from 365 Acts of Love is that developing a good relationship requires great care. As an analogy, consider the work it takes to grow a garden. No one expects a garden to flourish from a few days of hard work. Instead, it sometimes takes months of daily hard work for it to be fruitful. In other words, gardens don’t self-maintain or self-improve. But neither do relationships. Both require consistent and careful attention and cultivation. Left to themselves, they wither and eventually die.

I put a lot of work into my marriage at the beginning to get it to a certain level (so did my wife!), then expected it to stay there. I thought that after a while my wife and I would be able to just sit back and enjoy our lives together. But when I stopped working hard, our marriage slowly and almost imperceptibly withered. Although things could’ve been worse, they weren’t where they should’ve been. I’m so glad I started 365 Acts of Love when I did.

I would encourage all of you married folks to consistently and carefully attend to and cultivate your marriages. If your relationship is great, don’t expect it to stay that way without effort. If it’s bad or mediocre, work hard to change it. It’s possible that your hard work won’t bring about the change you expect. But your relationship won’t be good unless you try.


Day 57: “I Thank My God Every Time I Remember You”

November 26, 2011

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I came up with a list of 100 things about you that I thank God for. You haven’t seen this list yet.

1. You’re the girl of my dreams.

2. You encourage me to grow in character.

3. Your own character encourages me to grow in character.

4. We get to learn and grow and struggle together.

5. Your strengths are many.

6. Our strengths and weaknesses complement each other.

7. You have a child-like faith in God, while I’m always questioning, always doubting, never satisfied.

8. You make me relax, though I want to keep going all the time.

9. You make me have fun.

10. We can be silly with each other.

11. You’ve believed in me all these years that I’ve been pursuing my dream.

12. You haven’t once questioned my vision.

13. You gave up much to let me follow my dream.

14. You haven’t complained once that many of our sacrifices are a result of my pursuit of my dream.

15. You’re patient with my shortcomings

16. You pray for me, that I’ll become like Christ.

17. You want me to lead you.

18. You want me to romance you.

19. You invest greatly in our marriage.

20. You love doing devotions with me.

21. You love to pray with me.

22. You long for a great relationship with me and won’t settle for mediocrity.

23. You smile and nod when I talk about philosophy and theology.

24. We have a great connection.

25. You’re warm and tender with me.

26. You haven’t become bitter with me, even though you have reason to.

27. You continually forgive me, even when I fail in the same areas over and over again.

28. You don’t keep a record of wrongs.

29. You love giving gifts to others.

30. I see the fruit of the Spirit in you.

31. You’re glad when others are glad.

32. You care more for character/spiritual growth and wisdom than money and things.

33. You want people to know Jesus.

34. You have a heart for the “down and out.”

35. You want to feed and clothe the needy.

36. You have a heart for orphans.

37. You cry for the needs of orphans.

38. You pray for orphans.

39. You want to adopt.

40. You’re gentle.

41. You’re sweet.

42. You’re kind.

43. You’re friendly.

44. You’re easy going.

45. You welcome new people.

46. You show love even to strangers.

47. You’re (almost) always joyful.

48. You don’t worry even when our circumstances look bad.

49. You trust God in bad situations.

50. Your anger isn’t long lasting.

51. Your patience is.

52. You never boast about yourself.

53. You encourage others in their talents.

54. You love God.

55. You long to know God.

56. You long to know the Bible.

57. You want to continually fellowship with God’s people.

58. You’re hot!

59. You have a  great body.

60. You have deep, beautiful, brown eyes.

61. You have great lips that I love to kiss.

62. You have long, curly, brown hair.

63. You love our children.

64. You want them to know God.

65. You teach them about God.

66. You pray for them.

67. You take great care of them.

68. You give up your wants and sometimes your needs for them.

69. You have a great relationship with your parents.

70. You do much to foster that relationship.

71. You want to see your brothers and sisters grow in maturity and their knowledge of God.

72. You get along well with my family.

73. You want to see my family often.

74. You have a great laugh.

75. You think I’m funny.

76. You laugh at most of my jokes.

77. You love life.

78. You almost never stop smiling.

79. Your smile is infectious.

80. You like to watch movies with me.

81. You like superhero movies.

82. You watch movies I like with me, even though you hate most of them.

83. You go on hikes with me even though you hate hikes.

84. You want to look good for me.

85. You tried running, just so you could run with me.

86. You tried P90x with me.

87. You love the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company Restaurant.

88. Whenever we move to a new place, you’re able to make it feel like home.

89. You’re artistic.

90. You want to develop your artistic abilities for God’s glory.

91. You’ve gone camping with me, though you dislike camping.

92. You share a dream with me to travel the world.

93. You graciously agreed to get a minivan, even though you thought it would make you look old.

94. We share a love for The Chronicles of Narnia.

95. You tolerate my love for LOTR.

96. You recently started reading A LOT.

97. You’d rather be with me than with friends.

98. You like to try out different chocolates.

99. You like to try out different cheeses.

100. You wanted to marry a guy like me.