Guest Post by Lori Ferguson
The New Year is upon us and I am looking forward to the promises that 2016 will hold. I am, however, reflecting on Christmas and how I sometimes make the Christmas season busier than is needed. And yet, reflecting on the outcome of the busyness, I can discover lessons to translate into my marriage and writing.
A few years ago I spent much of December sewing costumes for a children’s Christmas program at church. I had a vision, and was already cleaning out, and preparing for our current adventure. Using up my stash of extra fabric for the purpose seemed like a good idea.
To begin the task, I found the fabric I’d had for years – good stuff, not cheap – each length or piece with an emotional value attached.
So why hadn’t I used those leftover scraps before now?
I can think of at least three reasons why I hadn’t used those leftovers:
There were only scraps –
Years ago I made our children clothes and we’ve carted the left-over scraps from one house to the next, but I never had a plan on what to make. Maybe I was apprehensive someone would notice the recycled fabric or I wouldn’t have enough to make an entire project. More likely I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the little pieces with memories attached.
My initial great ideas weren’t so great –
I’ve had brilliant ideas to create household decorations/window coverings/gifts, and then enthusiastically bought what I needed but… well…. never quite followed through.
I didn’t have a clue –
Once upon a time I fell in love with a piece of fabric (or two… or ten) – the color, or design or texture – and never found anything worthy of it. Or I didn’t think I had the skill to make proper use of that gorgeous length of textile.
Creating something new with the leftovers.
You know, after all those years, it was a uniquely satisfying experience to finally create something using this stash of leftovers. Taking action to create a complete piece – to choose and combine the right fabric and colors for each costume using only what was in my stash – was exhilarating.
Translating the Leftovers – What does this say about Encouragement in Marriage?
For many years, I’ve been writing about encouragement in marriage. There are five ways to encourage, and it’s much more than a simple “rah-rah” expression.
Using up these pieces of fabric caused me to translate this to encouragement – reflecting on why and when or if I choose to encourage.
I had to ask myself a question, and I’ll ask you too!
Have you stashed away your encouragement?
- Have you tucked the opportunity to encourage away, waiting for a better time, or more time?
- Have you withheld your encouragement because of emotional baggage- or just not made the effort because you don’t feel like it – right now?
- Perhaps you’ve not been supportive when you could’ve lent a hand.
- Or you’ve gotten too busy or you’re just too tired to spend time – time in prayer for your spouse, or time spent listening to understand what’s really going on in their heart and mind.
- Do you believe your ideas aren’t good enough – you’re not educated enough, or creative enough to provide insight?
- Or do you fail to contribute when you could add value or offer a solution to a problem because you’re being stubborn?
- What if you’ve been too discouraged to hope – to unearth a bright ray of shining hope for yourself or your husband?
- Are you tired of offering the same-old-same-old words?
- Do you think your spouse is tired of hearing the same-old-same-old and you just can’t do it even one more time because it doesn’t feel like it helped in the past so why would it help now?
Are you encouraging your spouse? At all?
5 Things I learned using the Leftovers – translated to Encourage Your Spouse
Here are five things I learned while making these costumes with the leftover “stash” I’d been hoarding. And they translate to encouraging your spouse:
- Just do it. Take action. Bite the bullet. Reach out. Use what you have and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. In the end it will be worth it – you’ll feel good.
- Even the smallest bit adds value. Small things fill in the gaps. And with the gaps filled, the whole piece is improved.
- Look at the bigger picture. When you pay attention to the end product, you’ll see how all the pieces can fit together. You’ll become inspired and see that what you have will be enough.
- Old is good. By reusing left-overs, the past is made new.
- Satisfaction comes from action. Seeing what you’ve done, with what you have, feels good.
Have Courage. Encourage.
Yes. This Christmas season is busy. It’s busy for everyone, including your spouse. But a little encouragement, even if it’s using the leftovers, goes a long way!
How are you encouraging your spouse? What lessons are you learning from your busyness this season?
Meet the Author:
Lori Ferguson encourages husbands and wives to lead meaningful lives at EncourageYourSpouse.com and other places on the web. She and her husband