Unique. That’s a word which describes all of us, right? Your husband is unique. Your wife is unique. Each of your children and grandchildren are unique also, I’m sure! Nobody is the same – not even twins.
So what works to encourage one person may not work for another. I’m guessing what encourages your spouse may not encourage you. (That’s true for Robert and me too!)
What one couple determines as a meaning filled life, won’t be the same as another couple. If you dig deeply, every couple will have unique goals for their life, even if on the outside it might look the same. We’re all uncommon in comparison to the other.
There’s nothing common about any of us.
With Christmas around the corner, I am searching for unique gifts for the special people in my life. I start with Rob, of course. And because we’re living a very minimalistic life in our little house-on-wheels, whenever something comes into the space, another item needs to leave.
So whatever we gift each other needs to have both form and function – and, of course, it needs to fit our lifestyle on-the-road! (Even though we’re pretty tethered to North Carolina because of the grandboy…)
I needed to find unique gifts which would have meaning for the two of us – be resilient for travel – and meet both form and function. Guess what? Something caught my eye on this Twitter post from Lindsay Rutland
Do you see it? The cheese platter in the shape of the USA? I went over to UncommonGoods.com and found it listed on their unique gifts for Christmas list. Yup. It’s unique. Just like Rob and me. It fits our lifestyle, because cheese and nibbles are a favorite lunch, and the form – it’s a piece of slate you can write on – is so cool! I ordered one. (I have to admit, that I have another couple in mind that I think this would fit as a gift also.)
Then I had a lovely adventure!
I did a bit of digging to find out more about UncommonGoods. I always do that. It’s part of our Value of Discovery – maybe you’re also insatiably curious like I am? Here are a few facts about this unique company:
- As an independently-owned business, they have the freedom to support causes which impact the world in a positive way. With every purchase we make, they donate $1. If you’re interested in the non-profits they support, take a look at the list at Better to Give. As you might imagine, the literacy non-profit was my choice!
- The company began when the founder visited a Smithsonian Museum craft show and was captivated by the variety of unique handmade goods and the talented people behind them. That’s where the vision began… I can SO relate. The idea just caught my imagination! Read more about their story – they’ve had some bumps along the way like every entrepreneurial venture. I wonder if he’s married? Did his spouse encourage his vision? Hmmm. More research, huh?
I was smitten and reached out to connect! You understand, don’t you? When you find a new source that you feel an affinity for, you just want to share… right? The folks at UncommonGoods responded. They so kindly and generously gifted me a few more items on the specially curated gift lists for men and Christmas items for women. They sent me a big box and it was just like… Christmas! 😉 (And my original purchased slate cheese board arrived the same day.)
Uncommon Gifts for Unique People
Who is on your list to give gifts to? My list includes our adult children, and grandboy – and finding special things for them meets my heart’s desire.
Want to see which items I chose to review (with my children and husbands and wives in mind)? It’s OK to tell our daughter, ’cause I roped her in to take some photos. She has a photography site – but it’s for people, not products. Don’t mention anything to our son and daughter-in-love though… OK? 😉
Slate State Boards
These are the State slate cheese boards that first caught my eye – you can order them in the shape of any US State, or of the entire USA. Can you identify the State shape of the top board?
They’re uniquiely crafted by Steven Chavez and Justin English from Colorado.
Which States do you and your spouse have special memories from? Were your children born in different States? What about trips… Serve some goodies on your next date night, and talk about those memories.
These chalkboard placemats caught my attention, because you could write all kinds of interesting notes or questions. Of course, there’s the obvious if you’re having a dinner party and want to display different buffet items with their ingredients – but what about with your spouse or children?
In one of the reviews of this item a lady said, “I love these placemats! What a fun way to write a daily personal message to each member in my family. My kids are seniors in high school. My only regret is that I didn’t discover these darling placemats when my kids were 3!!!!!!”
Do a special date night and incorporate questions for each other. Here’s a Pinterest board with lots of question options.
One caveat: Be sure to use regular chalk to write your notes on these placemats – we tried using the soapstone “chalk” meant for the slate cheese boards and it didn’t work so well. My mistake.
This card game made our daughter’s eyes light up! She always has her phone in her hands – so I thought… why not make it a positive! She and her friends are going to have a blast with this “Game of Phones”. It has players using their smart phones to take photos, find stuff on Pinterest, send texts, etc.
Do you and your spouse keep your smartphones in your hand? Maybe this game will make them into a positive experience on a date night! There are other unique games available that I’ve never seen before – like “Rememory” and “Music IQ” for music lovers and more. Lots of ideas for unique date-nights in 2017!
Can you see the sword campfire roaster? (Yeah – it’s resting on our son’s backyard firepit, with his dog investigating what I’m doing. This item came separately from the others in a long box. (Although the handle does detach.)
Zacharay Neff from Utah makes these (there are two to choose from – a marshmallow sword and a hotdog roaster). He makes these cool items in his family’s metal shop!
Of course, these blocks are for the grandboy. We’re teaching him American Sign Language, so these will support his learning.
Maybe these blocks won’t be for Christmas… our grandboy, Theo is turning ONE in just 10 days…
But think about this language… Imagine if you and your spouse could use ASL to sign to each other… what would you say? From across the room you could tell your spouse you love him/her! You could make eye contact in a crowded room and have a private conversation… Can you sign?
So many unique gift options for your spouse…
The website, UncommonGoods.com is like a treasure chest of uniquely perfect gifts for everybody on your list. Check it out!
What is encouragement and where do you find it? How do you DO encouragement?
Encouragement is so much more than “rah-rah” or a pat on the back. Consider the word that’s found inside “encouragement”.
Encouragement is offering “courage” to the overwhelmed, overcome, overdrawn and overloaded.
Does your spouse ever feel this way?
(What about you? – Have you ever wished your spouse would offer you some encouragement?)
As husbands and wives, as parents, as leaders in our communities, we need to model this encouragement principle.
A drop of encouragement during a time of trial is worth more than a bucket of praise after success.
How do you DO encouragement?
There are five key ingredients to actively encouraging others…
Take a look at our post on LeadLikeJesus.com to learn how to use these 5 ingredients in your leadership – as a spouse, as a parent and in the community…
Go to LEAD LIKE JESUS to read more…
Robert and I write for Lead LIke Jesus every month – here are a few more of our posts found on the site Lead LIke Jesus.
Lead Like Jesus
Lead Like Jesus is a global leadership development organization that helps individuals and organizations lead more effectively by following the model of Jesus.
Robert is a facilitator and Master Trainer for Lead Like Jesus programs, including the newest – the DISC Biblical Behavioral Assessment.
What makes Lead Like Jesus different?
Framework. We believe skills and knowledge can’t replace character and integrity. Leading like Jesus involves the alignment of our Heart, Head, Hands and Habits.
Definition. We believe leadership happens anytime we influence the thinking, behavior or development of another. If you have influence, you are a leader.
Model. We believe Jesus is the greatest leadership role model of all time. So our leadership philosophy is simple: Follow the Leader.
If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to Robert via email…
The Lead Like Jesus program originated from an endeavor with Ken Blanchard (1-Minute Manager author) and Phil Hodges. They’ve revisited their program and updated the original book, along with the President of LLJ, Phyllis Hendry.
How do you turn failure into fun? -> You need to take action.
I’ve been focusing on prayer the last few weeks. Like… really focusing. Reading. Learning. And reaching out to talk with people. I wrote about 23 Easy Ways to Remember to Pray on my research journey, because many of us want to pray, but don’t always take (or make) the time to pray. Or that time dedicated to prayer gently slides into the generic – without focus or depth. (Yes. I’m pointing at myself here.)
Maybe you need to pray more for your marriage? For your spouse? Prayer is an action that encourages…
As a Christ follower, is one of your desires to be more like Jesus?
Jesus took prayer seriously. He made time to talk with His Father. He even ditched his disciples and left the crowds behind to pray.
I’m guessing you’re like me – at least some of the time. We don’t always make time to pray – or have deep discussions with our Father as regularily as would be necessary. We fail.
Does failure prompt action in your life?
Maybe you wouldn’t use the term “fun” to describe prayer. (Or maybe you would?) But I’m pretty sure that failing to pray wouldn’t be on your “fun list”! How do you turn failure into fun?
I’m much more likely to take action on anything if I find ways to surround the activity with intruiging peripheral aspects. That’s where those 23 easy ways to remember to pray came from…
Do you think prayer is important?
Most of us would say that praying is important. And most of us, if asked, would say that we could pray more, and/or deeper…Especially for our loved ones – our husband, wife, children and family. Maybe you have a long list…
Here’s a fellow who knew prayer was important, but didn’t always take action. Then he turned his failure into fun. For himself and for others.
Turning failure into fun – using the Echo Prayer app
So – this app was on my list of 23 Easy Ways to Remember to Pray.
It’s become the most fun way I’ve morphed my failure to pray into feeling good about my prayer life. I’m using it to keep track of what I want to pray for and to set reminders to pray.
Since signing up for the app, I’ve receive 3 very useful emails to help me use the app more effectively. Here are some ideas from the emails:
You can also choose what prayers to pray for (by selecting individual prayers, or tags for groups), and you can set a prayer timer.
When you set the timer, it will cycle through your prayers automatically. You set how long you’d like to pray, and then Echo does the rest. This can be a great way to have a guided prayer time wherever you are, or it can be a helpful tool to give you the discipline to pray longer.
And the option for Hashtags to target your prayer time…
To tag a prayer, simply add a word or phrase with a pound sign in front of it (for example, #family or #communitygroup). You can add a tag anywhere in the prayer title or description.
You can add as many tags as you want to a prayer, and that prayer will be grouped by each of the tags you’ve created.
USING YOUR TAGS
Once you’ve tagged some prayers, you can use your tags in prayer mode, or when you create a new reminder. Try it out and see if it helps you organize your prayers and think of new ways to pray!
I’m still learning and exploring this app. It’s much more fun than a piece of paper or a notebook… and I usually have my phone with me.
My purse doesn’t fit much more than my phone, cash and cards. But I can still be reminded to pray – and have my prayer list with me – if I have my phone!
(Yes. I have a very tiny purse. Servers at restaurants have remarked on its size and my women-friends laugh at me. Still – it’s easy to carry, and because we’re living in a little-house-on-wheels, with a minimalist mindset, I only have one purse. This is it!)
In case you’re wondering, I don’t get anything from highlighting this app – I’m just a fan and I wanted to share.
Take action to encourage. Why? Encouraging your spouse, especially in a time of uncertainty and overwhelm, has more of an impact than praise after a success. But sometimes you don’t know where to start.
So you don’t do anything.
That’s procrastinating. Procrastination paralyses.
If all the events and circumstances are
and you have no idea what’s coming next,
it’s imperative to encourage your spouse in some small way.
Taking action kicks procrastination to the curb. It releases you to take more action.
Take a small, good action, and feel more in control.
Even if you don’t know what’s next -Take action to encourage.
Take action to learn.
Break it down. Small bites. Take action to encourage.
You may not know everything about your situation. Or your spouse’s situation. You may not know the way forward. You might not even have a clue on how to get past this situation…
However, you can take action to learn. Learn more.
One step forward. One action farther.
Make it a good step – an encouraging action.
Just because you don’t know… is not a pass to procrastinate!
You don’t get to stand still.
1 – Pray. Take action to encourage.
Yes. Prayer is an action. Let your spouse hear you praying. Build reminders into your life to remind you to pray. Pray together. Reach out – ask others to pray for and with you.
2 – Search for a mentor/role model to take action to encourage.
What you’re going through is not new – someone else has had these moments/hours/days/years of trial and anguish. There is nothing new under the sun. You’re not the first person to be overwhelmed and overcome…
Maybe the “someone” you find for inspiration and consolation isn’t close – or even alive. You don’t need to intimately know a particular person – it’s possible to use a stranger as a role model.
Dig into this person’s life to understand their values, their strengths (and weaknesses), what actions they take when under pressure, who they admire and from where they get their encouragement.
Don’t forget to look at Biblical role models as an example.
Those people in the Bible were real people – like you and me. Their stresses and discouragements might not have been outwardly shaped like yours or mine, but they had the same root – and the same liar tried to tear them down and separate them from their Hope – their God. How did they react when faced with disaster? From where did their help come? Who surrounded them?
Who are you most like – behavior wise – as a Biblical persona? What about your spouse? How can you know? (Robert and I are exploring this concept right now using this tool. The exploration has prompted some interesting discussions.)
You don’t need to know everything to do something.
One action. One step forward. Shake off your paralysis.
Your only guarantee in life… is change.
This time will pass. It will.
Encourage your spouse – and yourself – all the way through.
Remember – you don’t need to know the whole way through, to take one action. Take action to encourage your spouse right now. Exactly where you are…
How do you find ways to remember to pray? Do you start every morning in prayer and end every day in prayer? Have you set aside a specific quiet time for prayer? Is prayer a focus on Sundays when you go to church?
Or is your desire to pray greater than your actual time spent in prayer?
I’m guessing your life is like mine. You’re busy. Time is chewed up by all the “to-dos” on your list. (Maybe prayer isn’t even on your list?)
It’s not that you don’t want to pray for your spouse and loved ones. You do. But you need ways to remember to pray. Yeah. Me too.
23 Easy Ways to Remember to Pray
To help all of us, I’ve divided these 23 easy ways to remember to pray into 2 sections: Cues to Pray, and Read, Write, Color and Pray Together.
Cues to Pray
- Put a sticky note on your beside lamp. You’ll be reminded to pray when you see the note. Keep these at your bedside and decide which shape corresponds to what you want to pray for,… it’s fun to change them out and nobody needs to know except you. In fact, you could place them near the light switches around your house, on the dashboard of your car, or at your computer. Lots of ways to remember to pray!
- Set up daily reminders on your smart phone. Use the alarm option on your smart phone as a cue. Consider a special tone to pray for your spouse and sync the times to pray to know you’re both praying for each other at the same time. Years ago I knew families who stopped what they were doing at 10PM and prayed. If they were driving, they’d pull over and pray. Hmmm. Maybe we can renew that idea…
- Use these to write a big “PRAY” on your microwave. We often waste the seconds when microwaving our food by watching it go in circles inside the microwave. Instead use those 30 seconds to pray. And if you don’t want to write the word “pray”, then just do a big, decorative “P”! Let visitors inquire what the “P” means and you can talk about your faith and all the ways to remember to pray.
- Pray for your spouse when you see the make/model of the vehicle they drive. If you’re on the road use the cue of other cars as your reminder to pray. Know your loved ones’ make or model of vehicle and the opportunities become a regular reminder.
- Colors can be a reminder to pray. What’s your spouse’s favorite color or print? When you see that color, it will be a reminder to pray for her or him. If your spouse doesn’t have a favorite color, then use the color of their eyes. You can do the same for your children. (Whenever I see lime green I think of Alex, our son. A deep royal blue is my reminder of Sarah, our daughter. And yellow triggers prayers for Alisane, our daughter-in-love.)
- Link social media and prayer. Each time you open the Facebook app on your phone and see the first post, pray for that person. (If you don’t want to pray for that person, then why are you “friends” on Facebook?) Or you could discipline yourself to pray for your spouse before you open Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you have time for social media, then you have time to pray! 😉
- Use your television (or computer monitor) to remind you to pray. Use your digital photos, wifi and Chromecast to stream them to your television. Pray for each person in the photo. Our son and daughter-in-love have this set up on their television. Here’s a lnk to learn how to do it for yourself. You can configure your computer screen saver to do the same for many ways to remember to pray.
- A shower of prayer. Use your time in the shower to pray. Write prayer prompts on these note pads for the shower or write on your shower walls with these to remind yourself. Moms and Dads of small children have very few moments of “alone time”. We see our daughter-in-love and son grasping at finding the energy and time to do anything other than the essentials. (I understand because after grandparenting for the day, I go to bed early!) However, we all still shower. And a few moments alone can be the perfect time to pray.
- Pray as your loved ones leave. Rob and I try to pray together before we leave our little house-on-wheels. (We’re not always successful.) But I ask God silently to be with him in his day as I hear the truck start. I silently pray for my adult children and the grandboy as I leave their house. Even if your spouse leaves your home before you’re awake, as soon as you wake up you can pray for him or her.
- Pour your coffee and pray. It only takes a few moments to make your coffee (or wait as the barista makes your coffee 😉 ) You can use those seconds before you take your first sip of that exilar of energy to pray.
- Let what you hear be your cue. A specific song could be your cue to pray for your loved ones. The sound of a train whistle, helicopters or planes could be a cue to pray. We hear many sounds during a day, and we could make use of those noises. When I hear the bubbling of a boiling tea kettle I think of my parents-in-law and pray for them. (They love their afternoon tea.) Are there specific television theme songs that remind you of your loved ones?
- Sing and pray. Use your Praise and Worship CDs/MP3s to tune your heart to pray. Or use an old-fashioned hymnal. The words in our traditional Christian hymns are deep and comforting. Many of them are taken directly from scripture. I have memories of my grandmother sitting with her hymnal, reading the words of the hymns. Keep a hymnal near a comfortable chair, and when your eyes fall on it, sit down and pray a while, using the hymns as your starting point.
- Active prayer. Do you run or swim laps? Discipline yourself to use that time to pray. Even a simple evening walk around the block with your spouse can include a time of prayer.
- When you wash your hands look at your wedding ring and pray for your spouse. Instead of singing “Happy Birthday” 3 times, use the time to pray for your husband or wife. Those wedding bands are a promise and a symbol of your vows. Bring honor to your role as husband and wife by praying for each other.
- Let your hand provide a cue. We take our hands everywhere we go… “Your fingers can be used to bring to mind different things to pray for. Your thumb is the strongest digit on your hand. Give thanks for all the strong things in your life, like home and family, relationships that support and sustain you. Your index finger is the pointing finger. Pray for all those people and things in your life who guide and help you. Friends, teachers, doctors, nurses, emergency services and so on. Your middle finger this is the tallest finger. Pray for all the important people who have power in the world, like world leaders and their governments. Your ring finger this is the weakest finger on your hand. It can not do much by itself. Remember the poor, the weak, the helpless, the hungry, the sick, the ill and the bereaved. Your little finger is the smallest and the last finger on your hand. Pray for yourself.” I found this prompt here on the Church of England’s website and adapted it for this post.
- Make prayer an act of service for one person. (Do for one what you’d do for everyone… if you could.) Is there a widow or widower in your neighborhood that you could help? Perhaps take them for groceries, or mow their lawn. What about a single mother/father who needs some time for themselves? Could you take care of their children so they could go get a coffee? Perhaps it’s as simple as delivering Meals-on-Wheels once a week or volunteering at a soup kitchen. During that time when you’re serving, spend some time praying. You could even pray with them.
Read, Write, Color and Pray Together
Sometimes a book will remind you to pray. If your attention is on a subject, there’s a greater chance to take action. Here are 6 opportunities to surround yourself with books and apps that encourage you to pray.
Color your prayers.
Maybe words escape you and you need a different way to pray… As a visual or kinesthetic learner, a distractable or impatient soul, or enjoying the adventure of trying new things, this book will answer your needs. Why not use color instead of words to pray?
Arrange your prayer time.
This book has made a huge difference in how I pray. It includes a12 step prayer plan for an hour in prayer or 12 minutes…. There’s an introduction by Joni Erickson Tada and how this plan changed this physically challenged woman’s view of needing to go to bed early every evening because of her paralysis. Every time I deepen my understanding of prayer, it becomes easier to remember to pray.
The Power of a Praying…
This book, The Power of a Praying Grandparent is just one of the series of books by Stormie Omartian about making prayer specific. I received a free copy from NetGalley, and read it right away. This book deepened what and how I prayed for our grandboy, even though we’ve been praying for him since before he was born.
I first become aware of the Omartians through their books, the Power of a Praying Wife and the Power of a Praying Husband. Robert and I recommend these books to every couple. Just by looking at the table of contents of each book, you’ll see how much you haven’t thought of… I go back to my copy of praying for husbands regularly. It keeps prayer top of mind when I start to get lazy.
Echo App – Ways to remember to pray
This is a free app for your iPhone specifically designed to remind you to pray and I’ve been adding in reminders to pray for specific things (things from the Praying for books above) for our grandboy, our adult children and Rob. My phone is usually with me, and the reminders are a way to keep my prayer life active.
Keep a Prayer Journal
Choose a journal and use it as a reminder to pray. Keep it with you as you go throughout your day, and you’ll remember that prayer needs to be a regular activity.
This one is a pretty journal from DaySpring Cards Inc
Use your decor as ways to remember to pray.
Your surroundings show what you value. If you value prayer, then let your environment demonstrate that focus.
We live in a little house-on-wheels, so our decor and possessions are minimal. After researching this post, I’ll be adding a pillow to my couch with a reminder to pray. (Hey- a pillow is both decorative and functional, right? 😉 )
Last, but not least… join a group and/or find a prayer partner.
One of our favorite Bible chapters is John 17 – where Jesus was praying with and for his disciples and those who would follow Him in the future – that’s us! (John 17:20)
Want to remember to pray? Don’t pray alone! Your spouse is an ideal prayer partner. If you’ve never prayed together, or haven’t prayed for a while, then just start in a simple way. Here’s a post that’ll give you ideas.
Or you could join a prayer group at a local church. Or begin one yourself. How deeply do you feel the calling to pray?
Here are two books we recommend in this area: The Prayer Saturated Church and Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer: In Our Homes, Communities, and Churches.
Thankful to link with Spiritual Sundays and Give me Grace
This is a long list, huh?
I started out compiling the best list I could for ways to remember to pray, but this post has gotten quite long. To help you remember all your options, here’s a free 1-page PDF to download. It should make this easier for you.
Remember to pray for your spouse.
This is a general list all pointing to prayer. However, the person you first need to pray for is your spouse.
Remember her. Remember him. First.