OneWord365 Thankful. Have you heard of OneWord365? Summed up, it’s the act of choosing one word to represent your focus for the year ahead. 365 Days. One Word.
For 2018 we’re going to focus on the word “thankful”.
And to this end, I’ve been doing some research on books to read, poems and quotes, along with blog posts and everything else you can find online that’s connected to being thankful. OneWord365 Thankful. I began my focus on being thankful – or gratitude – a few months ago. Rob and I wrote about our discussions about thankfulness on the Lead Like Jesus blog in the post “Thankful or Grateful?“. In that post, we explored the two words: thankful vs grateful. Which would you use, and when?
OneWord365 Thankful – Quote by Wilferd Peterson
During my research today I came across a quote on thankfulness (or gratitude) by a fellow born in 1900, Wilferd Peterson. Here’s the quote:
“When we become more fully aware that our success is due in large measure to the loyalty, helpfulness, and encouragement we have received from others, our desire grows to pass on similar gifts. Gratitude spurs us on to prove ourselves worthy of what others have done for us. The spirit of gratitude is a powerful energizer.”
Wilferd Peterson wrote 10 books that grew from many magazine articles. He credits his wife, Ruth, as being the inspiration for his work saying that while he “wrote about the art of living, she lived it“. He passed into eternity in 1995.
Sounds like a great couple, right? And then, as I was reading about his life, I realized he’s best known for his poem on marriage!
The Art of Marriage by Wilferd A. Peterson
Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens.
A good marriage must be created.
In the art of marriage the little things are the big things…
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted;
The courtship should not end with the honeymoon, it should continue through all the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.
It is discovering what marriage can be, at its best.
~ by Wilferd Peterson
Marriage and Thankfulness (or Gratitude)
Thankfulness (or Gratitude) will be an ongoing theme for 2018 here on EncourageYourSpouse.com – for many reasons, of which I’ll share a few in each post. But for now, just consider the one line in Wilfred’s poem on marriage:
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
Are words of appreciation and demonstrations of thoughtful gratitude part of your marriage?
Family Reflection and stories. These are a tradition at the end of every year in our family circle. It began in 2000 – the year we moved to the USA when Rob brought some markers and paper plates to our Christmas Eve celebration. In the years since 2000, we’ve had additions to the family reflection – those who joined us for a few years and those whose time was their “first” time. Even the grandboy has his “Plates” from the year he was born, last year and this year!
Before we begin the new plates we review the old “plates”. We look through what we’ve drawn or written on our “Plates” from years ago. Our “Plates” detail our children’s growth from teens to adults, and into marriage. Of course, the grandboy is on our plates too! The highs and the lows are all there. (Because that’s life, right? Not every year is a good one. Sometimes you’re celebrating that a year is done!)
After this many years, we have quite a collection to reflect on and tell stories! There are bursts of laughter and excitement as we reflect and say, “I remember when…”
How do you reflect on the past year as a family?
Stories are such an important part of a family’s heritage. Where do they come from? You need a catalyst for family reflection and stories.
Our catalyst to tell stories is our end of the year “Plates”. After our newest plates are completed we go around the table and explain what each word or image represents from that past year. The highs/wins are celebrated with rousing applause or a toast, and the lows are commiserated with by verbal encouragement. You choose what’s on your “Plate”, what you want to share and what you want to remember.
Christmas letters can be a way to reflect on the past year. Re-reading them is a fun way to reflect and tell stories. Anne Markey talks about a family tradition her father began five years ago – he asked the family to write up a letter about their past year instead of giving gifts. And then they took turns reading those letters to each other, even if some of them had to connect via technology! One year that’s how she and her husband announced they were expecting their second child!
Photos. Pulling out a family album and talking about those who are still there, those who have grown up, and those who have gone into eternity is a wonderful way to create a family reflection time.
Family reflection and stories – a time to slow down and remember.
Easy and simple gifts? Giving gifts together – what’s your strategy as husband and wife?
Sure, you’d delight to give your loved ones their hearts’ desires with money as no barrier… Rob and I would like to do that too. However, your finances as a husband and wife team might not support what you’d wish to give as Christmas or a birthday approaches.
In truth, those who you love don’t care what you give them – your presence would be gift enough. But what if you can’t even give that? The holidays can be a bittersweet event when we’re feeling bound by circumstance. What can you do to make these days more sweet than bitter?
There are still easy and simple gifts you cangive as a husband and wife team, even if you’re in a tight spot.
3 easy and simple gifts when finances are tight.
Rob and I have had to do a bit of brainstorming this season. The way we would choose to celebrate with our loved ones isn’t the way it’ll work out. (Unless our loving God changes circumstances.) Here are three of the easy and simple gifts we came up with:
1 – Pray as a husband & wife team for those you love.
We forget sometimes what a beautiful gift praying for one another can be. No matter age or stage, those we love have needs where only God can make a difference. There’s still time to ask those you love about their needs, and then spend time each day, as husband and wife, praying for them. Start now.
Prayer has no cost. And the gift of intercession for your loved ones lasts into eternity.
Begin simply if you’ve never prayed together before. Here’s a post on how to easily do that. And if you need help remembering to fit prayer into your day (because we’re all busy right now), then try some of these ideas!
2 – Use technology to visit those you love. Make a date.
And as the special day comes closer, whether it’s Christmas or a birthday or some other occasion, arrange a time to connect. If you can visit in person that’s perfect. Otherwise draw close to each other via a Facetime, Zoom or Skype video call. Even a telephone call with that person can be valuable. Talking and sharing are easy and simple gifts.
When you’re together – pray together. And share a cup of tea or coffee and a cookie or cake on both ends. Do those things you’d do if you were together. Share photos. Tell a story. Talk about how much you value and appreciate your loved one. Play a game. Be creative.
As an aside: Our son just purchased a Virtual Reality headset – the technology is still new, but when we tried it Rob and I could see the possibilities… Maybe within a few years, we’ll be able to use this VR technology to “sit” with those far away, as though we’re in the same room. I can’t explain the extraordinarily immersive experience of VR. You really need to try it to understand. It’s truly amazing!
When distance separates you and your loved ones, there is still the opportunity to mail or ship a little something. However, if finances are a challenge then you also need to be aware of shipping/mailing costs. Rob and I need to mail items across the US border, so the costs skyrocket if we’re not careful.
As I mentioned, we did some brainstorming and came up with something those we love will appreciate, we can “share” the experience with them, and the shipping costs will be minimal. See? Easy and simple gifts. Guess what it is?
I ordered a variety of tea flavors from Stash Tea and made little easy and simple gifts to open.
Tea bags are light, and if they’re packaged correctly they’ll easily fit into an envelope. The mailing costs will be minimal, but the enjoyment will last for days! And behind every tea bag in their own little envelope, I added a Scripture verse to encourage and surprise. God is faithful. All things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. These are good reminders for all of us!
Fold a 5.5×5.5 inch piece of decorative paper around one tea bag to begin making the envelope. (You’ll eventually glue each envelope onto the cardstock.) Turn the 5.5×5.5 paper like a diamond, fold the sides first, then the top and bottom. See the photo below. Do this with all 6 pieces of 5.5×5.5 decorative paper you’ve cut out.
In the middle of each 5.5×5.5 envelope glue on two embellishments and a scripture verse. Place the tea bag into the envelope and refold it with the Tea bag inside. Use one of the cardstock embellishments (the same as the cardstock you will be gluing the envelope onto) and use the little sticky foam circles to secure the envelope closed. One foam circle at the top of the circle and one at the bottom so they secure the top and bottom fold closed. Do this with all 6 envelopes. I found it’s easier to open the envelope with these foam circles than using glue.
Glue the 6 envelopes to the 8.5×11 cardstock. You’re done!
When your recipient opens the envelope they find a different tea bag every time,
and a difference Scripture verse to encourage them!
Make memories – don’t add to your stuff. Living in 282 square feet for more than three years has taught Robert and me that we don’t need as much stuff as we might believe we do… but the memories we’ve made over the last years are priceless.
I encourage you and your spouse to think about what you could give to each other, your family and friends that would increase their “memory bank” – not their clutter.
Make Memories in 2018
What gifts could you give to your family, spouse, and friends that are designed to make memories? Try these!
1 – Classes or lessons to learn a new skill.
Ask a few questions to determine if there are any skills your spouse has always wanted to learn but hasn’t taken the time to explore. Consider:
scuba diving, sailing or paddle boarding
rock climbing or parachuting
photography or videography
flower arranging or pottery making
yarn or fabric work – knitting, crochet, sewing, weaving, etc.
sports – golf, tennis, racketball, swimming, kick-boxing etc.
dance – swing, ballroom, line-dancing, etc.
computer skills – html, css, website design, etc.
writing – fiction stories or a book, or a children’s picture book
gardening – raising vegetables, nurturing orchids or succulents, herbs, etc.
landscaping – adding a pond, or rock walls, a putting green or orchard to your space
music – learning an instrument or joining an ensemble, or group to sing
health and fitness – tai chi, heart-healthy cooking, yoga, lifestyle makeover, etc.
Instead of adding stuff to your space, why not make some memories together while taking a class? You could attend something local or use YouTube or a streaming service!
When Rob and I want to see how the other feels about a certain activity, we ask each other…
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you feel about ______”
If you use the 1-10 Test to determine how your spouse feels about a certain activity, you’ll be much more likely to hone in on a winner!
Take it one step further – ask if your children & friends want to join you in making memories!
You don’t need to do these things with only you and your spouse. (Although that’s always fun, too!) Invite others to join you! We’ve had some really fun times with other couples and their children.
2 – Memberships
What about the gift of regular explorations? Consider memberships at:
museums, and art galleries
sports, historical or theme parks
national or state parks
Having a family membership for a year at a park or museum means you can gather with your family and friends on a regular basis for a low-cost memory-making event. It takes the planning and cost off the table, and just allows you and those you love to explore!
One of the best things we ever did with our children when they were pre-teens was to have a membership to the Ontario Science Center. Another family also bought their year-round membership and though it was an hour away, we’d go exploring monthly. Our children (and the other family’s children) are now adults, but it remains one of their favorite memories. When our son and family visited Canada he even added an excursion to the Science Center to share those memories with his wife and baby boy. Memories are priceless and continue to add to the legacy you leave as parents!
Wine! Rob and I have tried a new startup called Bright Cellars. It’s a wine subscription that helps you learn what kind of wines you like. It alleviates that deer-in-the-headlights feeling when looking at aisles and aisles of wine in the store – we wrote about the idea here.
Here’s a video of our daughter-in-love unboxing our first order!
Increase your memories – not your stuff!
These are just a few ideas for things to give to your loved ones to make memories in 2018. Some of them are affiliate links, which mean Rob and I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Do you have any other suggestions?
Have you tried any other “memory making” experiences that had a great impact? Leave a comment and share!
Celebrate today. Even if it’s not your anniversary today, do you still have something to celebrate… today? 😉 I’m guessing you do!
Every decade has been a very different ride for Rob and me, and so far, our third decade of marriage has had a few more downs than ups. We’re only through a third of the decade, so hopefully, we’ll experience some “ups” in the next years. But even if we don’t, there are always things to celebrate. Always.
What could you celebrate today?
Holding hands. That’s a big thing to celebrate. In fact, it feels odd for Rob and me if we’re walking together and do not hold hands! What about you and your spouse? When was the last time you held hands? A few years ago I wrote a post on The Happy Wives Club about the importance of our hands as husband and wife. I told a story about a couple we interviewed who were married for 53 years and what I remember most about them was that they held hands all the time! Now, that’s something to celebrate, huh?
Sharing a conversation about memories. Do not underestimate the value of your history together. You have shared life together with your spouse for years… and those years are a blessing. We spoke with a couple recently who reminisced about an anniversary where they went through every year in their conversation and could highlight at least one good memory from that year. (They’re married 35 years!) That’s a great conversation to have with your spouse. Celebrate your good memories!
Your shared relationships with others. Begin counting the relationships you share – as husband and wife – with others. Make a list. Consider the rich impact those relationships have on your life, and how you also could impact those other important people in your life. Do you have “couple friends”? (We discussed this concept in one of our videos earlier this year from a book review.) Research has shown that the more couple friends you have, the greater sense of satisfaction you have with your life. What about a relationship with your parents, siblings, and children? Adult children are awesome! Perhaps it’s time to reach out to the people in these relationships and celebrate with them!
What you can celebrate today is much more than you believe at first glance.
And even if life isn’t all diamonds and roses, take a moment to consider all the blessings you can celebrate! Then say to your spouse,
“Although our wedding day was many years ago, I’m so thankful we’re still celebrating today!”
This post is the 5th of 10 posts on words to encourage your spouse on your anniversary – or anytime! Encouragement isn’t always about words… but sometimes it can start with words! Here are the other posts – just click on the photo to read the ideas and suggestions.