On Why It’s So Critical That We Connect With Friends

On Why It's So Critical That We Connect With Friends

No one ever thought it would happen.

Least of all her.

She was a pastor’s wife and a homeschooling mom. A lovely lady with four beautiful children.

And now it’s completely fallen apart.

Heartbreak, divorce, and she’s left them all.

Not that everything was perfect because it wasn’t.

But what actually happened? Something went wrong somewhere.

Left her family behind – bewildered and searching for answers.

What would have made a difference? And what would have helped? These are the some of the questions we’ve all agonized over.

The answer isn’t simple and I don’t pretend it to be. But there is one thing that I’m certain would have helped.  Might have even changed the course of this family’s history.

And that one thing is pressed upon my heart today.

A close friend.

I believe a good friend could have helped tremendously in that situation. Possibly turned it around.

Because when you’re left alone with your own thoughts and your own struggles? Your own pain and your own sin and weakness? As well as the the pain and sin of those around you?

It’s easy to get confused and off-track. To spiral downward. To listen to those negative, destructive voices.

And this is right where the Enemy wants you to be.

Which is why Christ urges us – commands us, really – that we are to love one another.  Deeply.  Fervently.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. ~ John 15:12-13

We are made to walk closely with one another.

Not alone.

Yet so many of you have written me telling me how lonely you are and how your heart aches for someone to understand and care about you.

And I get it. I really do.

It is increasingly difficult to find friends in this busy, fragmented world we live in. Friendship is risky and it’s rare. And yet  I believe it’s essential for us as believers to be walking closely with others.

We need each other, sisters. 

Why It's So Critical to Connect With Friends

How Do You Closely Connect with True Friends?

Pray for friends. I’ve found over the years that I’ve had to pray for friends. Ask God to bring women in your life who will love you. Support and challenge you.  As iron sharpens iron (Prov. 27:17).

Reach out. Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. Swallow your fears and your insecurities and take a chance. Some of my closest friendships came out of my shy and hesitant, “Hi, I’m Lisa and I was wondering…..?”

Get creative. Don’t limit yourself to your small circles, but be willing to seek out friends from various places and stages in life. Some of my friends are local and some live all over the world. Some are older and others are younger than me. Each has something unique to offer in friendship.

Share openly. Be real with a few trusted friends – using discretion – and be willing to be honest and vulnerable. Feels risky, I know, but it’s a risk worth taking. God doesn’t want us to live in the shadows, but to walk out into the light.

Speak truth. I am grateful for friends who are willing to speak truth into my life. Sometimes we can be so hesitant about “hurting” a friend –  that we hurt them worse by not being willing to be honest with them.  So let’s lovingly, graciously, speak truth to each other too.

Communicate love. True friendship takes both time and effort. Show your friends by your words and by your actions that you love and care for them. Yes, pour into your family, but invest in good friendships too—friendships that will encourage you in your spiritual walk and ministry.

Friends, we were never meant to walk alone. And it’s not enough to give a quick hug between church services, or wave to one another from across the parking lot. We were meant for so much more.

God intended for us to be closely connected.

Love you, Sisters!

*What do you think is essential for deep friendships? How have you been able to find friends in this swirling world we live in?

In His grace,
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Teaching Our Children The 10 Habits of Happiness

Teaching Our Children the 10 Habits of Happiness

The goal of parenting is not a happy child, but to turn out a successful adult.

That ‘s what our friend informed us as we all sat around the dinner table together. Two couples enjoying a fine meal and fine china. Two couples without children.

And you know something? At first, it seemed to make sense.

Our friend expounded on his theory. I mean, what makes a child happy? If you give a kid a piece of candy, then he’s happy. If you don’t, then he’s not. You can’t build a life around that.

Now isn’t that the truth!

Never mind that the gentleman didn’t actually have any children of his own. He was older and wiser. A sage looking on from a distance.

But then Matthew and I went on to have children ourselves and our view changed a bit. Quite a bit. Suddenly we didn’t see anything wrong with wanting our child to be happy.

And, tell me again, how does happiness conflict with being a successful adult?

Maybe we wanted too much.

But my husband and I wanted our children to enjoy both a happy childhood and a successful adulthood.

We started to consider the possibility that the two of these went together – even went hand-in-hand. We began to suspect that learning how to be happy could be a very important skill to take into adulthood.

What if we were to  pass on to our children the habits of happiness as a gift? Something  that they could carry with them wherever God took them in life.

The 10 Habit of Happiness to Teach Our Children

1.   Happiness is not found in things. Things will never make you happy. Never. Stuff will always remain just that: stuff. So don’t get drawn into the Stuff Game – it’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds.

2.   Happiness is a choice. Here’s the deal: happiness is not something you “find” or that “happens to you”. The beauty of happiness is that it is a choice you get to make. Every day. So why not choose to be happy?

3.   Happiness is not about getting your way. We think we’ll be content if we finally get what we want, or if things go our way. But that’s not how it works. Getting our way all the time is rarely as satisfying as we think it will be.

4.   Happiness grows out of thankfulness. If you make it your habit to be grateful each day for the blessings around you – whether big or small – you will find that you’ll become a happier person. The secret  is simply being  thankful for what you have right now.

5.   Happiness is found in looking after others. Surprised? Often, we assume that happiness is found in looking after ourselves, but the irony is that we are the ones who are blessed . . . when we are blessing others.

But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he. ~ Prov. 14:21

6.   Happiness isn’t a personality trait, but a character quality. Some people seem happy as if that’s just the way they were made. Not so. Happiness is available to all for the taking. You can learn to be happy –  much like you learn to be honest, kind, and thoughtful.

7.   Happiness is found more in relationship, than in achievement.  While there’s nothing wrong with achieving goals, never let those goals come before the people you love.  Always invest in relationships more than fame or fortune.

8.   Happiness means giving it your best. And resting in that. Doesn’t have to be perfect.

9.   Happiness doesn’t depend on circumstances.  You don’t have to let your situation determine your happiness. For inspiration, read about people like Corrie Ten Boom or Darlene Deibler Rose and you’ll see what I mean.

10.   True happiness is always grounded in the God of Hope.  He is the only real source of true joy.

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God.  ~ Psalm 146:5

The Jacobson Family Having Fun

So now we’re enjoying raising a bunch of happy kids.

And aiming those happy kids toward a successful adulthood.

Looking to the God of Hope together.

In His grace,
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7 Ways to Bring Respect Back into Your Marriage

7 Ways to Bring Respect Back into Your Marriage

As wives, we desire our husband to love and cherish us.

We want to hear sweet nothings whispered in our ears and have love notes tucked under our pillows with pledges of love from our husbands. We like to feel our husband’s arms around us reassuring us of his affection and attention.

But, our husbands have desires too. Three of their strongest desires (in my opinion) would be respect, intimacy and food.

Most of us wives understand that our husband needs food and intimacy. It’s kind of common knowledge, but respect?

Yes, respect is a major need that he desires to be fulfilled by you, his wife. You are the one that sees him when he excels and when he fails. You are the one that he has vowed to spend a lifetime with. Yes, he needs respect from you.

But how?

How can we as wives make an honest and deliberate effort to respect our husbands — every single day?

It doesn’t come that easy when we know his weaknesses. But we have to, we need to.

Why?

Because most of us chose to marry our husbands. Most of us were not the recipients of an arranged marriage. No, we fell madly in love with one certain man and pledged our life to him. In fact, many of us quoted wedding vows with the words “honor and respect” in them — and we were talking about our husbands!

So if he needs it, and we promised to give it, then we need reminders on how to respect him every single day.

Here are some relevant, everyday tips that you can start using today to bring respect back into your marriage. A wife that respects her man is a wife that is dearly loved. It’s true! It’s a tested and proven cause and effect. Just try it for yourself!

7 Ways to Respect Your Husband

1.    Don’t nag. Wow, this is a tough one sometimes. Life gets busy and he forgets to fix the sink or cut the grass. Don’t muse on these things. Just be patient and wait. Ask that God to remind your husband of those things so you don’t feel tempted to repeat requests — over, and over and over again.

Another option? Consider taking the time to figure out how to get the job done yourself, so he can focus on other things. I know you are probably busy too, but if you can squeeze some of his duties into your schedule, you will only reap happy marriage benefits from your sacrifice of love!

2.    Just listen. As a busy mom of six, I multi-task. Do you do that too? Sometimes my multi-tasking sneaks its way into my conversations with my husband. As he’s relaying current events to me, I may be sweeping or braiding my daughter’s hair. But, one small gesture that I can do everyday to show my husband respect is to simply stop and listen. I can put down my broom for a few seconds to give him my undivided attention.

When I focus on him and his words, my body language is saying, “You’re important to me and I want to hear what you have to say.” Try it today and see an instant positive response form your hubby!

3.    Don’t correct. This is definitely a pet peeve of mine. Countless times my husband and I have been engaged in a conversation with another couple and the wife continually interrupts. “No, honey. There were three men in the store.” “No, Sweetie, you picked up the green one.” She has to correct him — or else the story would never be the same.

Don’t be that wife. I have yet to meet a husband that enjoys his wife interrupting his conversations or correct him — especially in public. It belittles him and only adds tension to your marriage.

4.    Give thanks. Did he take the family out to dinner? Did he lead the family in devotions? Did he change the light bulb? From the simplest to the most difficult tasks and gestures, thank him. Verbalizing your gratitude shows your husband that you truly respect the work he does — no matter how small or big.

5.    Praise him. Do you love your husband’s eyes? Tell him. Does he have an impressive baritone voice? Let him know you’re his biggest fan. Is a a loving father to your children? Tell him so. Take every opportunity to praise your husband. He’ll love it, and focusing on your husband’s talents and abilities will cause your heart to respect him more.

6.    Give him his own space. Men like to have their own little cubby away from everyone else. This “man cave” is a place he can go to be alone and just think. Especially if he’s a dad, there will be times when he needs to get away. Let him have that space and furnish it as he desires.

7.    Welcome his advances. Nothing makes a man feel disrespected more than a wife that pushes away his physical advances. It makes him feel undesirable. Lean in to that kiss, squeeze extra tight on that hug and focus on your special physical relationship that only you two share. Enjoying the physical part of the marriage is one of the most powerful ways to let your husband know he has your respect.

Respecting our husbands doesn’t always come easy. It’s something that God had to give us clear instructions to do. But if we do strive to respect our husbands, then we will experience a happy, close-knit marriage that few people get to experience.

Respect your husband now and cultivate a strong marriage that provides a strong foundation for a happy home.

DO YOU DESIRE TO HAVE A HAPPY HOME?

Many times we think happy homes only exist in fairy tales. Happily ever after can become your family’s story! In my new ebook 25 Days to a Happier Home I take you through 100 plus pages of 25 daily challenges that inspire you to create a happier home for your family. Parenting, marriage, home-making and financial issues are all addressed in this new book. Honest wife-to-wife and mom-to-mom advice helps encourage you to complete each challenge and continue molding your home into one of the most pleasant places on earth!

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25 Days to a Happier Home by Alison Wood25 Days to a Happier Home is available in an easy-to-read format that is available for most reading devices. Join the happier home challenges today — your family is worth it!

You can get a copy of the book HERE:

25 Days to a Happier Home

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Alison Wood is a mom of six kiddos, wife to one amazing husband, church-planting missionary in Southeast Asia and a parenting writer for online magazines. She encourages wives and moms at Pint-sized Treasures Follow her there!

6 Things Every Sister is Really Hoping to Hear from Her Brother

6 Things Every Sister is Really Hoping to Hear from Her Brother

I am a middle child.

The only sister between two brothers.

And we grew up the way most families grew up in our neighborhood. Sometimes we fought and sometimes we had fun. We played board games together, rode the bus to school, went on camping trips, and launched huge pillow fights when our parents weren’t home (sorry about that, mom!).

I don’t remember my brothers every being truly mean to me and I knew, deep down, that they loved me.

But we didn’t really talk much about that.

Okay, we didn’t talk about it at all. It just wasn’t cool or comfortable for brothers and sisters to say that kind of stuff to each other.

So I had to wait until we were older – as in, grown-up, married-with-families-of-our-own, older – to hear that they loved and appreciated me.

And by then I was glad to hear it. Really, really glad.

But I don’t want our daughters to have to wait until they’re married and moved out to hear from their brothers. I want our sons to say what should be said now, while they’re still living in the same house together.

Because although he might not realize it, a good brother can make all the difference in a girl’s life.

Why wait until years down the road – if ever – to tell your sister what she needs to hear?

So, for all you dear brothers out there, this is for you . . . . 

6 Things Every Sister is Really Hoping to Hear from Her Brother

You are valued. You mean a lot to me and, if I’ve never told you this before, I’m thankful to have you as my sister. You’re the best!

You are lovely. And I don’t only mean “pretty” (although I think you’re that too), but that you’re a really lovely person. You bring beauty into all our lives.

You are smart. I know we don’t always see things the same way, but I like how you think and appreciate hearing your thoughts about life and ideas and adventures.

You are protected. Because I’ll do all I can to look after you. I’m watching out for you, Sis.

You are gifted. You are one talented lady and I admire your many strengths. You’re so good at whatever you set out to do and I believe you’ll go and do great things some day.

You are loved. In case you’ve been wondering, yes, I love you. And always will. No matter where life takes us and what God has planned for our future.

I will always love you, Sis.

Then you just might prepare yourself for the big hug that will probably come your way.

Because sisters can be like that.

And then you might want to hug her back.

Because you can almost bet that she’s really hoping for that too.

So go ahead and say it. A brother can make all the difference in a girl’s heart. 

What Every Sister is Really Hoping to Hear From Her Brother
*This is the companion post to 6 Things Every Brother Needs to Hear from His Sister which was in response to a young reader’s original question:  What does my brother need to hear from me?

In His grace,
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(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

100 Ways to Love eBooks Tiny*Our books are now available:  100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L. Jacobson

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