Words of Affirmation for Your Spouse

Part of having a strong marriage is knowing what to say (and what not to say) to your spouse. Husbands and wives can struggle with it – especially if words of affirmation are not your love language.

Matt and Lisa Jacobson have written two volumes, 100 Words of Affirmation Your Wife Needs to Hear and 100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband Needs to Hear in an attempt to help.

It’s important to let you know this isn’t literally a book of 100 words! Each “word” is actually a word highlighted in a sentence of affirmation. After each sentence the author gives an explanation or a suggestion to go with the affirmation. Each entry is still less than a page long.

In general, the “words” are probably what most spouses would appreciate hearing more often. I have to say though, my love language is not words of affirmation. While I enjoy compliments, a few of these sounded a little cheesy or over the top to me. For those who adore words of affirmation though, the suggestions will probably sound like music to your ears.

I’m not sure if these books can transform a bad marriage, but they could probably help make a good marriage better. Often it’s forgetting those little things we did when dating that begin causing cracks in the foundations of a marriage. A refresher course like these books can often help.

These books were given to me for free in exchange for my honest review.

Fun Way Your Family Can Thank Others

For many, November has become the month of Thanksgiving. As a Christian parent, it’s important to teach your children to be thankful and encourage others throughout the year.

This fun family devotional is a great way to start the conversation. It also introduces them to part of a familiar Bible story that may be new to them. You will need a Bible and the materials you will use to complete whatever project you choose to do with your children as part of the devotional.

Read Exodus 4:16-5:6 to your children, or tell them the story. Point out that Moses wasn’t particularly excited to do what God was asking him to do. He knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task. The Israelites might reject him and Pharaoh would not be at all happy to hear what God told Moses to tell him.

Yet, Moses obeyed God. Things didn’t go well at first. Pharaoh kept changing his mind and was angry a lot of the time. There were plagues on the Egyptians. Moses may have wondered at times, what was happening. But he knew the way the Egyptians were treating the Israelites was horrible – especially since the Israelites were doing all of the hard work for them.

Moses probably went through most of his life without anyone thanking him for all of the things he did to obey God and lead the people out of Egypt. In fact, he probably heard more complaints than appreciation and encouragement.

There are many people in our world today who also have jobs where they provide help to others and hear more complaints than gratitude. Have your kids name some of the people who do “thankless” jobs. They may name categories of jobs or specific people they know. You may need to help them get started or add to their list.

Look carefully over your list. Are there thirty people on it your family can thank in a meaningful way for the next month? It doesn’t have to be time consuming, but over the course of a month, your family can appreciate and encourage more than thirty people who probably really need it.

What are meaningful ways to thank someone? Saying “thank you” is a start, but meaningful gratitude is a little more. Perhaps you want to make cards or write notes explaining why your family is so grateful for what that person or group of people does. Maybe you want to make them a baked treat or give them a small gift card. Your kids might want to make them a special craft or pick a flower or some apples to give them.

It doesn’t really matter how your family makes those “thank you’s” more meaningful. Just taking the time and effort to truly thank and encourage someone can make a huge difference in their lives and give them the strength to continue helping others. It’s a great way to reflect God’s love accurately and perhaps even multiple it.

Fun Way to Teach Your Kids About Gifts

Children love presents. It’s fun to get the things you want without having to work for them. Christianity is about the tremendous gift Jesus gave us, but it’s also about us giving generously.

How can you help your children begin to understand about God’s gifts to them and how they can share those gifts with others? There is a fun family devotional you can do to help even very young children begin to understand. You will need a Bible, plain white paper, various colored papers, scissors, markers and glue sticks.

Tell your kids the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors found in Genesis 37. Point out that the coat was a very special gift Jacob gave Joseph to show him how much he loved him.

Give your kids the paper and markers. Have them draw themselves large enough to cover the sheet of paper. Give them the colored bits of paper. Have them think of gifts God has given them that they can use to help others and show God’s love to them. Encourage them to think of talents they can use to serve others as well as material things.

They can write each gift on a strip of colored paper and used the strips to create their own coat of many colors to represent the gifts God has given them. Have them share their finished artwork. If possible, encourage them to share at least one of their gifts to serve someone within a specified time period. Then review the story and what they did when the deadline is reached.

Encourage your kids to use their gifts from God to serve others and share their faith whenever they can. It’s a great habit for everyone in your family to have!

The Chore – Allowance Dilemma

Did you have chores you were expected to do when you were growing up? Was your allowance tied to whether or not you completed them? Are your kids barely home enough to eat, sleep and do a little homework? Are you worried adding chores to their to-do list will be overwhelming or unfair?

Chores can be a controversial topic in parenting. There are so many possible combinations of how to give your kids responsibilities around your home and money for the things they want or need. It seems like whatever their stance, the “experts” on chores and money are convinced their method is the best for your kids, too.

As a Christian parent, you are perhaps even more concerned that you handle these topics well. If your kids grow up to become faithful, productive Christians, they will have responsibilities to minister to others. They will expected to be good stewards of their resources and share them generously with those in need or in support of ministries.

What really is the best way to teach your kids to take on responsibilities – especially unpleasant ones – and do them well and reliably? What is the best way to teach them to handle their money in godly ways and have grateful and generous hearts?

The good news is that the methods aren’t necessarily as important as the teaching and training that goes with them. You can teach your kids to be responsible with regularly assigned chores or by expecting them to pitch in and help with whatever needs to be done at the moment. The key is talking about why being responsible is important – in general – and especially to God. What sorts of responsibilities might God give them in the future? Talk about the consequences of being responsible and irresponsible. Expect responsibilities to be handled well, with consequences when they are ignored or done poorly.

Teaching your children to be grateful, competent stewards of God’s blessings works the same way. You can teach your kids to handle money well and be generous with an allowance that is or isn’t tied to chores. You can teach them by giving them little odd jobs to earn money. The key is the teaching you do as they handle their money. Are you actively teaching them about budgeting and saving? Do they understand the financial responsibilities that they may face as adults and how to make sure God is always the first priority in how their money is used?

An interesting secular study found that even the highly praised four bank method of teaching kids wasn’t teaching the vast majority of them how to save money. Why? Because the parents weren’t actively teaching them to save and didn’t have a method for monitoring and giving feedback to how their children actually used the cash in the banks.

Choose the methods and lessons you think will work best for your family. Plan time to actively teach the principles and skills you want your kids to learn and practice with household responsibilities and money. Model healthy, godly behaviors in those areas yourself. Monitor whether or not they seem to be learning the lessons. Be willing to adapt or change methods if your kids don’t seem to be growing in those areas. Don’t let them continue to struggle for years. At that point, they may be too old to learn those lessons easily.

Taking the time to teach your kids about responsibility and stewardship is crucial. Just don’t worry too much about the methods. With adequate intentional teaching from you and guided practice, they should learn the lessons well.

Words of Hope and Comfort for Women

God never promised us that life as a Christian would be perfect. In fact, looking at the people in the New Testament being a Christian can even cause additional hardships like persecution. Yet, we are told a fruit of the Spirit is joy. How can we reconcile the troubles of living in a fallen world and joy?

Carolyn Larsen has released two new books that may help you – especially if you are currently struggling. Words of Hope for Women and Words of Comfort for Women are about the size of a smaller devotional book. Both have ninety entries that are slightly over one page long.

Words of Hope for Women begins each entry with a verse of scripture. The entries themselves are often little reminders of why our hope lies in God or suggestions of things the reader can do to be reminded of their hope. The theology in some of the entries – particularly about salvation – is a little suspect. In general though, it is just reminding readers of general principles that most Christians would agree are true.

Words of Comfort for Women has entries that are structured the same way. The content of each entry is similar to what a Christian friend might say to you if you were upset. There isn’t as much theology in this volume. Most of the entries are more practical suggestions of ways to find comfort in God.

While both volumes could prove helpful, I would suggest the Words of Comfort volume – especially for new Christians or seekers. Sometimes being able to read encouraging words when you need them can give people the extra help they need when their friends aren’t easily accessible. The best part is these books point them to God, where they can find true hope and comfort.

These books were given to me for free in exchange for my honest review.