Love is a Verb

Most women love Valentine’s Day. With candy, flowers, sweet cards, and romantic dates with our forever-love, who wouldn’t? But if we’re not careful, our view of love can become tainted by the messages presented on commercials and greeting cards. True love extends beyond a candlelight dinner into the home where whiskers are left on bathroom sinks, dirty clothes on the floor, and toilet seats are left up. True love is evident in the things we do and the words we say throughout the year. Today Catrina Bradley shares the depth of her forever-love, reminding us that love is not only a gift of grace, but also a continual, consistent choice of action.

LOVE IS A VERB by Catrina Bradley

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..”  Ephesians 5:25

My husband might be the epitome of this passage of Scripture. So much so, that, sometimes, I come dangerously close to worshipping him. He has no problem saying those three beautiful words we all want to hear – “I love you” – but he wouldn’t have to verbalize it to for me to know. From the day we became one flesh, his actions have proven it.

Brad knows my flaws and recognizes my limits. His love for me encompasses my weaknesses, and strengthens them. When I commuted an hour and a half to a high-pressure job, he encouraged me to hire a housekeeper. I wouldn’t have minded cleaning my own home, but when I dragged my body in the door at night, I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. The long commute and the longer days zapped my energy and my motivation.

Only once was a “Spouse of the Year” honored at company’s annual Christmas Party. My husband was that spouse. I was in charge of the party, and he ran errands for me, purchased gift certificates for my boss, and put up with my crazy hours and foul moods for weeks. The usual stuff. He is always the winner of my Spouse of the Year award.

Before I left for work every morning, I pulled my pre-packed lunch out of the refrigerator. Brad said it was no big deal to fix my lunch; he was making his anyway. And when I returned home at night, his second load of laundry was usually drying.

More often than not, he makes our supper. He also does most of the grocery shopping, so he buys yummy easy-to-make dinners, or heat-and-eat frozen delicacies. Sandwiches are always an option, and some nights we just have cereal. He’s easy to please.

He is also is the most selfless person I know. (He’d probably disagree; he’s also humble.) I vividly remember stealing into my friend Leigh’s house at midnight to whisk her away from her abusive husband while he was at work. She, her two children, and her cat spent the next few months as members of our household. Brad doesn’t even like cats. Or children for that matter. Another year we shared our home for three months with a couple who were between house closings. Many friends in dire straits have been helped out of financial holes by my husband.

We have never been in a financial hole. Brad learned stewardship from his father and is a responsible caretaker of our earnings. He thinks of little things that add up. He won’t carry a balance on a credit card, preferring to withdraw from savings if necessary instead of paying interest. And not a month goes by without a deposit into that savings account. I was reared by frugal parents myself, and I’m no spendthrift, but I do need reining in once in a while. He is reason to my fancy.

Brad is not what you would call “romantic,” but he is oh-so thoughtful. The grocery store has four rows of my brand of deodorant, but I can hardly ever find my favorite: Original Scent Solid. One day, Brad came home holding up a bag. (Did I mention he also does the grocery shopping?) “Honey, guess what I found?” He grinned, and pulled out .. “Original Scent Solid!”

I cheered, and thanked him.

“But wait.” He reached into the bag again. “I got you not one .. not two .. not three .. or even four .. but FIVE .. Original Scent Solids!”

I know I’ve done nothing to deserve such a mate, and all too often I fail to reciprocate. Ephesians 5:22 says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”  Submission might be repulsive to some women, but I have no problem with it. What I need God’s help with is being the Proverbs 31 wife. Verse 10 says it best: “An excellent wife, who can find?” Not here, that’s for sure. The more Brad shows his love for me, the more I realize that I need to get my act together!

James said that “Faith without deeds is useless.” (James 5:20)  I think the same might be said about love without deeds. Is your love more than three beautiful words? Is it a verb? Or, like me, do you need to put wheels on your words and get into gear?

Lord, thank you for Your amazing, undeserved, unconditional love. Please help me receive that love, and share it with more than just my words. Help me to be the wife you want me to be. Amen.

Catrina Bradley grew up in Iowa but now makes her home in Georgia where she serves her church as Admin & Ministry Assistant. She has been blissfully married for over 20 years and has a beautiful, talented daughter and two precious puppies. Her Christian poetry, essays, fiction, and devotions have been published in numerous on-line and print venues. She posts quasi-regularly at her blog Scattered Seeds and monthly at Jewels of Encouragement.

Visit her online at Scattered Seeds.

Intentional Growth

Today, Catrina Bradley challenges us to be intentional in our spiritual growth. What can you do today to draw closer to Christ, to grow more Christ-like, and to spread His fame?

NAIL CLIPPINGS AND HAIR TRIMMINGS: Are You Growing? by Catrina Bradley

My poor little dog Lady’s toenails are too long. We’ve been meaning to take her to the VetExpress for weeks, but didn’t seem to get around to it with the Christmas crush. She could use a good trimming, too; she’s getting a bit shaggy.

Like me, her nails need constant clipping and her hair grows out of its styled cut because…well, because we are living organisms, and living things are constantly in a state of change and growth.

If our nails stop growing, that means our bodies are dead.

To be alive means to grow.

If you aren’t growing in Christ, are you alive in Him?

My doggy’s toenails made me think again about Sunday’s thought-provoking sermon. Our guest preacher at FBC this past Sunday was outstanding. He spoke to us about the importance of a Christian growing to maturity.

In closing he asked, “Are you growing in grace and in knowledge? Are you growing spiritually?”

How do you know if you are growing or stagnant?

He gave us 10 questions to think about, to help us see if we growing.

Are You Growing Spiritually?
1. Are you becoming more confident in your salvation, not always questioning whether your salvation took or if you are really saved?
2. Do you feel more satisfied, content, and fulfilled in Christ?
3. Are you becoming increasingly aware of your sinfulness and weaknesses?
4. Are you finding new guidance in familiar scriptures?
5. When at church, you don’t feel the need to keep God on the clock?
6. Are you learning to see trials and temptations more as opportunities for your growth and for God’s glory?
7. Is your perspective on life becoming less temporal and more eternal?
8. Are you eager to share with others what Christ is doing in your life?
9. Are you praying for opportunities to minister to those around you that don’t know Christ?
10. Does the way you spend your money and the way you spend your time indicate Christ’s importance and priority in your life?

My automatic and immediate answer to all of the above was “YES”, but I’m convicted I need to take an honest assessment of my situation. I need spend a little time thinking about each question, meditating on the “YES” areas of my life, and praying to uncover the “not quite” places I’ve secreted away and haven’t fully surrendered.

How about you? Are you growing?

Catrina Bradley grew in Iowa but now makes her home in Georgia where she serves her church as Admin & Ministry Assistant. She has been blissfully married for over 20 years and has a beautiful, talented daughter and two precious puppies. Her Christian poetry, essays, fiction, and devotions have been published in numerous on-line and print venues. She posts quasi-regularly at her blog Scattered Seeds and monthly at Jewels of Encouragement.

Visit her online at Scattered Seeds.